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New York Islanders at Tampa Bay Lightning: Down the stretch [Game #77]

The Islanders can keep up the pressure in the wild card, while the Lightning can clinch their playoff spot.

NHL: OCT 22 Islanders at Lightning
If there’s a scramble, Parise will be there.
Photo by Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

You certainly hope the Islanders get some playoff-vs.-good-team practice as well as some points out of this weekend traveling back-to-back in Tampa and Carolina, but it is a little comforting going into the weekend knowing they got four points out of meetings with the Capitals and Devils during the week.

At sunrise today, the Islanders were three points ahead of the Penguins and four ahead of the Panthers. Florida’s game in Columbus is simultaneous with the Islanders-Lightning match, but the Penguins played earlier, losing in regulation at home to the Bruins. (Teehee.)

No lineup changes expected for the Isles, though Sebastian Aho participated in the morning skate and seems to be nearing his return. Lou Lamoriello also said Mat Barzal will begin skating tomorrow, and he finally disclosed that Oliver Wahlstrom is out for the season.

The Lightning’s chance of getting home ice advantage against the Leafs is getting dimmer and dimmer, as they enter the night trailing Toronto by four points, and the Leafs have two games in hand. Tampa has five games left after tonight. Technically, the Lightning have not actually clinched a playoff spot yet, though they’ll do so tonight if they win OR if they get a point and the Panthers lose OR if the Sabres lose and the Panthers lose in regulation.

So, yeah, they’re in. Catch more Lightning observations over at Raw Charge, now decorating a new home.

This is our in-game banter and reaction thread. Follow all your superstitions to their logical conclusion.