What seemed unlikely 90 days ago has been successfully achieved by the defending Stanley Cup champions. The team with 29 road wins — and 11 straight to close out the season — has secured home-ice advantage through at least the first two rounds.

The Avalanche defeated the Nashville Predators 4-3 on Friday at Bridgestone Arena, clinching the Central Division title for the second consecutive year. They trailed the top-seeded Dallas Stars by 14 points on Jan. 14 but have gone on a 31-7-4 stretch since to pass the Stars by one point. Colorado (51-24-7, 109 points) has gone 16-2-1 in its last 19 games heading into the postseason.

Superstar center Nathan MacKinnon was explosive in the finale, scoring a hat trick and adding an assist. MacKinnon had two beautiful goals in the first period before firing home the go-ahead goal with 1:42 remaining in regulation. It’s his ninth game-winning goal of the season, and sixth in the last 10 games. MacKinnon finishes the season fifth in points despite missing 11 games. He had career highs in goals (42) assists (69) and points (111).

The victory also secured Colorado’s first-round opponent. The Avalanche will take on the Seattle Kraken, who qualified for the playoffs in just their second year since joining the NHL as an expansion franchise. Former Avs Philipp Grubauer and Andre Burakovsky are both big pieces of the Kraken, though the latter is not expected to play in Tuesday’s series opener at Ball Arena.

All three games between Colorado and Seattle this season were decided by one goal and won by the road team. The Kraken came to Denver in October and defeated the Avs 3-2. Three months later, the Avalanche were triumphant in their only visit to Climate Pledge Arena, winning 2-1 in a shootout. And in the final meeting between the two clubs in March, Seattle was victorious 3-2 in overtime at Ball Arena.

Game 1 on Tuesday is scheduled for an 8 pm. puck drop.