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“Part of it is us not making bad plays sometimes, too,” he said. “When they’re coming that hard the play needs to be made and you’ve got to execute or else they’re coming back the other way pretty quickly.”

New York has counter-punched the NHL’s highest-scoring team much in the same way the Flyers did to the Penguins in the first round a year ago. Philadelphia knocked off Pittsburgh in six high-scoring, defense-optional games. The Penguins stressed they had learned a painful lesson. It hasn’t exactly looked like it for most of the last three games.

“They’re playing aggressive and we plan on matching that and finding a way to win this series,” Pittsburgh forward Jarome Iginla said. “I think this could be great for us.”

It could be great for the Islanders too. New York spent the last six weeks of the regular season scrambling to make the postseason. After needing a game to get their feet set, the Islanders have gone skate-to-skate against a team with far more experience about what it takes to be successful this time of year.

Heading into a best-of-3 to determine who makes it to the conference semifinals, New York is only too aware that it’s not supposed to be here. The Islanders are playing with house money, or more specifically, Pittsburgh’s money.

“It’s where we want to be,” Carkner said. “We’ve been playing some pretty good hockey. To win (Game 4), that was a really gutsy win and we’re excited.”

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AP Sports Writer Ira Podell in New York contributed to this report.