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Islanders looking for that voice to replace captain Anders Lee

A trainer tends to Islanders left wing Anders

A trainer tends to Islanders left wing Anders Lee, who had collided with a Devils player during the first period of an NHL game March 11 at Nassau Coliseum. Credit: AP/Kathy Willens

Many times, Anders Lee knew something needed to be said. So, the captain would say something, either collectively to his teammates or one-on-one.

Friday was one of those moments for the Islanders, who have lost two straight heading into the middle match of a three-game series with the Flyers on Saturday night at Nassau Coliseum.

But Lee, of course, is not available having suffered a season-ending torn anterior cruciate ligament. The Islanders needed another voice.

Coach Barry Trotz wants that to be one of the players. But, on Friday, he spoke up.

"Leesy is such a great leader, he drags everybody," Trotz said after Friday’s practice at Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow. "One of the things that they have to do is understand, collectively, someone has to fill that void.

"Usually, Leesy is the guy that would say, ‘OK, boys, center around here,’" Trotz added. "I think everybody looks at each other, ‘OK, who’s going to take that role?’ It’s going to have to be a collective group. I took center stage today to try and get that going. Hopefully, we’re better tomorrow. We have to be because we weren’t very good last night."

The Flyers won, 4-3, on Thursday night with 1,391 season-ticket holders at the Coliseum for the first time. But it was somewhat of a deceptive score. The Islanders were lousy the first two periods, spotting the Flyers a three-goal lead. The third period was much better as the Islanders tied the game at 3.

But a little over three minutes after rookie Oliver Wahlstrom’s equalizer, a bad icing by defenseman Scott Mayfield and poor defensive coverage led to Oskar Lindblom’s winner at 17:38.

Lee’s off-ice leadership is certainly missed but so is his on-ice presence.

Mathew Barzal’s line with Jordan Eberle has struggled without Lee, even with rookie Kieffer Bellows scoring three goals. And second-line left wing Anthony Beauvillier has gone seven games without a point and nine without a goal.

"When players are streaky, they’re probably their worst enemies," Trotz said. "They get in their own head a little bit. They think probably more about the result than the process. When those players aren’t getting results, they’re not going to those hard areas enough."

Notes & quotes: The Islanders announced Anatolii Golyshev, 26, had agreed to a one-year, two-way deal for this season after eight seasons in the KHL. The 5-7, 187-pound forward had 109 goals and 220 points — both franchise records — in 403 games with Yekaterinburg Avtomobilist, which terminated his contract on Tuesday to allow him to move on to North America…Defenseman Noah Dobson remained on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list for the sixth straight day.

New York Sports