The Islanders are ready to reap the benefits of home-ice advantage again.
Emerging from Pittsburgh with their first-round series against the Penguins tied at one, the Isles were reminded of the influence fans can have on the atmosphere after PPG Paints Arena doubled its capacity from Game 1 to Game 2.
Coronavirus-related restrictions kept the Pittsburgh arena at 25 percent capacity in the Islanders’ series-opening win on Sunday. Pennsylvania’s regulations changed on May 17, enabling the building to host the largest crowd for a sporting event in the city in 14 months on Tuesday with 9,344 fans.
The Penguins fed off the increased attendance and played with a spark that propelled them to victory.
“It just gets me excited to get back to the (Nassau Coliseum),” defenseman Scott Mayfield said after the Game 2 loss.
Yes, now it’s Nassau Coliseum’s turn to host the next two games of the tight series, beginning Thursday at 7 p.m. It’ll be up to Fort Neverlose to create an ambience that inspires like it frequently has in the past.
But that’s expected, considering the building’s days as the Isles’ home are numbered with the billion-dollar UBS Arena set to open for the 2021-22 season. Just in time for the last hurrah, the Coliseum will also be permitted to increase to 50 percent capacity — much more than the 1,400 cap the arena has had since March.
“It raises the emotional level, especially for the home team,” head coach Barry Trotz said of fans returning. “It seems strange. It’s been quiet for the last little while. Now, I’ve got people yelling at me, at the team and each other and you can’t hear on the bench. It’s a good feeling to be back to that. It brings juice to the game. It brings emotion. It brings all that. We’re in the business of emotion, that’s what sports is.
“That’s what we’re looking forward to when we get back to the Island. Our fans will hopefully give us that boost that we need to get over the top.”
Games 3 and 4 at the Coliseum are both sold out, with 6,250 fans expected to attend each contest. Prices ranged from $95 to $315, but season-ticket holders were given priority and will make up all of those in attendance. The arena will be divided into a fully-vaccinated section and a socially-distanced area.
“Due to high demand, the only way to get access to purchase playoff seats was to become a Season Ticket Member or Premium Member to UBS Arena,” senior vice president of ticketing, Mike Cosentino, told The Post in an email. “We are over 90% sold through of season tickets, over 80% sold through of premium inventory, and the response to this year’s playoff tickets has been tremendous.”
During the playoffs last season, the Islanders competed in empty arenas inside isolated bubbles in Toronto and Edmonton. The Coliseum will surely make up for lost time, while also topping off its legacy as one of the most difficult arenas to play in for opponents.
Oh, and if applicable, tickets for Game 6 at the Coliseum will go on sale to season-ticket holders early next week.