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Nick Leddy: Closing Out Teams are the Hardest Games

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Brock Nelson and Nick Leddy

In a five-game series, things can change in an instant.

That’s what the Islanders are facing heading into Game 4 on Friday. The Islanders had a 2-0 series lead before Wednesday’s 3-2 Game 3 loss to the Florida Panthers. Now the Islanders are feeling the heat with Florida right back in the series now.

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“If you’re one game from being eliminated a lot of pressure is off of you, you can just go on and play,” Nick Leddy said on Thursday. “On the other end, it’s a lot harder. I just remember through the years those were the hardest games to close out a team out because they’re playing maybe a little stress-free.”

The Islanders find themselves in that position after failing to close out the series on Wednesday. The loss was punctuated by mental mistakes and a special teams unit that struggled.

The Islanders allowed the Panthers to go 2-for-5 on the power play and failed to convert on the man-advantage themselves. A too many men on the ice penalty and a delay of game after Semyon Varlamov played the puck outside the trapezoid resulted in goals against.

“I think in playoffs every mistake is magnified,” Leddy said. “Just trying to eliminate those as much as possible is huge. It’s a little different with no fans with the momentum, but I think if you can create that on the bench. If we do make a mistake try to get that momentum back as fast as possible.”

Friday’s gameplan for the Islanders will center around getting back to their game that was seen in Game 1 and Game 2. The focus will be on maintaining their strong effort during five-on-five play. According to Natural Stat Trick, the Islanders had high danger chances 65.96% of the time five-on-five, with an expected goals rating of 69.26%.

The only thing the Islanders struggled to do five-on-five on Wednesday was score. The Islanders had several chances in Game 3, including several odd-man rushes and sever shots that hit off the iron.

“We knew this was going to be a tough series,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “We felt there was a lot of positives in our game, especially our five-on-five play. I felt we lost the game in a short period of time and we lost it in special teams. (Florida) made some adjustments in terms of what they’ve done.”

The Islanders could see some changes to their lineup on Friday after Trotz said there was a “high probability” of it. Trotz did not specify who could be impacted by the lineup changes, but it most likely would be a change in net.

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