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Notebook: Isles Shut Out Blue Jackets 2-0

Semyon Varlamov and Thomas Greiss combine for 39-save shutout as Isles beat Blue Jackets

by Cory Wright WrightsWay / NewYorkIslanders.com

It took two goalies and two goals, but the New York Islanders pitched a 2-0 shutout over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night at Barclays Center. 

Anders Lee and Mathew Barzal provided the offense, while Thomas Greiss (nine saves) and Semyon Varlamov (30 saves) combined for the shutout. The victory helped stop the Isles three-game winless streak - which tied their longest since Barry Trotz took over - and erase any sour taste from an 0-2-1 California trip. 

"We lost three in a row for us before this game, so it was important to come in our building and play a good game," Varlamov said. "We did a lot of good things today. We played a very solid hockey game."

Video: Lee, Barzal score in 2-0 win vs. Blue Jackets

Saturday's win featured the regular hallmarks of this Islanders team - a grinding defensive win, highlighted by a pair of quick counterattacks and quality goaltending. 

The Islanders scored on their first shot of the game and played with a lead from there on out, a welcome change after only leading for 5:26 in their previous six games. 

Lee opened the scoring for the Islanders, ending an 11-game goal drought in the process. He did so with a goal-scorers goal, completing a pretty three-way passing play with Barzal and Josh Bailey by snapping a shot from the slot past Elvin Merzilkins at 1:18.

Video: CBJ@NYI: Barzal shows off speed on breakaway goal

That's how the score stayed until late in the second period, when Adam Pelech sprung Barzal on a breakaway with an alley-oop out of the Isles zone. Barzal turned on the jets to blow by the Blue Jackets defenseman before roofing a backhander past Merzilkins at 16:01.

Varlamov provided the backbone for the Islanders, standing tall after coming in for an injured Greiss late in the first period. Varlamov stopped 30 shots, including 17 in the final frame. Varlamov and Greiss became the first Islanders' goalies to split a shutout since Tommy Salo and Wade Flaherty on April 4, 1998. 

With the win, the Isles took back second place in the Metropolitan Division after being leapfropped by the Philadelphia Flyers in the afternoon. 


GREISS AND VARLAMOV COMBINE FOR SHUTOUT: 

Thomas Greiss started Saturday's game, but pulled himself at 14:06 of the first period after experiencing some dizzyness. 

"Greisser came in and said, 'You got to go in.' And I was like, 'OK. I got to go in,'" Varlamov said. "You're never ready for this kind of scenario because you're just sitting on the bench. You don't want anybody to get hurt, you don't wish anybody to get hurt or give up 10 goals. You're just sitting there watching the game. It happens quick. I just had to go out there and get ready really quick."

Varlamov was thrown into the fire against a hungry Blue Jackets team and stopped all 30 shots he saw in relief. Head Coach Barry Trotz said he was impressed with the veteran's poise. 

"I think just like anything, it's a little bit of shock therapy and you're in that survival mode and you have to lock right in and go on your instincts and determination," Trotz said. "He's a veteran goalie and has seen probably almost everything you can as a goalie and he responded well."

The two-goalie shutout aptly came on a night where the Isles tied a team record for most consecutive goalie rotations to start the season. Saturday marked the 24th straight game the Islanders had alternated starting goalies. 

"We've got a lot of faith in both our guys," Bailey said. "I think every goalie has been through something like that where you've got to come in a little cold. They're all professionals and they know how to handle it. Varly showed that tonight."


Video: CBJ@NYI: Lee beats Merzlikins from the high slot

LEE BREAKS THROUGH: 

Anders Lee was visibly relieved after finding the back of the net on Saturday night. The Islanders' captain netted his sixth goal of the season, but more importantly ended a 11-game scoring drought on Saturday, potting his first goal since Nov. 1 against Tampa Bay. 

"Anytime you have a stretch like that, it doesn't matter if you feel good or are getting the chances, if it doesn't go in, it doesn't feel that good, so it was good to get it going," Lee said. 

The goal was a monkey off the back for Lee, who has led the team in goals in each of the past three seasons. The early offense was also a vindication of Barry Trotz's line changes, as he put Bailey - his swiss army knife who had started the last game as a third line center - alongside Lee and Barzal. 


LEDDY RETURNS TO LINEUP: 

Nick Leddy returned to the Islanders lineup after missing Wednesday's game vs LA with a lower-body injury. Leddy skated 18:55 TOI with no shots. 


NEXT GAME: 

The Islanders kick off a stretch of five of their next six games on the road, starting on Monday night in Detroit. Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m. 

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