First, it was his groin. Then after a rehab start on January 3rd with the Hershey Bears – a start in which Oskar Osala crashed into him while he was in net – it was his knee. And now after another long month on the shelf, Washington Capitals number one goaltender Semyon Varlamov is finally healthy again. Varly returned between the pipes today as the Hershey Bears took on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at Giant Center.
Varlamov made 26 saves in a thrilling 5-4 Bears victory, but gave up three goals in the first period – two of which were softies and likely would have been stopped if he were at the top of his game. After the first period however, Varlamov settled in, much like the rest of his teammates. How bad was the first period though? The Bears got outshot 17-4.
Anyways, thanks to a hat track by Mathieu Perreault and a game winning goal by everyone’s-favorite-minor-league-defender Bryan Helmer, Hershey went on to win it’s 17th straight game at home, 5-4. At this point, the Bears have won 10 straight and 22 of 23 overall. That’s crazy.
When asked about Varlamov’s performance after today’s game, Bears Head Coach Mark French had this to say: “I thought [Varly] got better as the game wore on. I don’t know what the game plan is. As far as I know, his health throughout the game was fine.” (Quote via Tim Leone of the The Patriot-News)
So yes Caps fans, Semyon Varlamov is one step closer to returning to the Big Club and also another step closer to joining Team Russia as it’s Third Goalie on the Olympic Roster (THANKS A LOT LISA HILLARY). Varly had no setbacks in today’s gamel! Yes, everything seems to be right in the world once again. Special thanks to Kyle M. for the photos and the report.
Below the jump check out some more photos of Varlamov wearing his new mask!