There could be a party-like atmosphere at Nassau Coliseum on Saturday night.
Because the Islanders, who have far exceeded anybody's expectations this season, can clinch a playoff berth by defeating the Sabres on home ice as their magic number is down to two. The Isles have missed the playoffs each of the last two seasons.
Should the Capitals lose on the road against the NHL-best Lightning on Saturday, the Islanders could also pull to within one point of the Metropolitan Division lead. The Islanders and Capitals meet in Washington for the final game of the regular season on April 6.
The Isles have the inside track at home-ice advantage in the first round after the Penguins fell to the Predators Friday night. The Islanders are two points ahead of Pittsburgh and both teams have four games remaining.
If the Islanders can grab home-ice and play Game 1 at the Coliseum, it would be the first time in a long time for such an occassion. As noted by The Athletic's Arthur Staple, the Isles haven't hosted Game 1 of a playoff series since the 1987-88 season -- 31 years ago -- when they played the Devils in the Patrick Division semifinals. The Isles have made 10 playoff appearances and played in 13 playoff rounds since they last hosted Game 1 in the playoffs.
The Coliseum would be the Islanders' home during the first round. Should they advance, the rest of their home playoff games would be played at Barclays Center.
Seeding can change quite a bit over the final eight days of the season, but it all starts with getting to the dance, and the Isles might punch their ticket in front of their fans Saturday night.