The Colorado Avalanche rallied to cut their series deficit in half in their last time on the ice against the Stars, but Dallas still has the edge and could take a commanding lead in these conference semifinals on Sunday.
Whatever momentum Colorado gathered after a stunning 6-4 win wavered a little bit due to the NHL-wide social justice protests that caused Friday's initially scheduled contest to be postponed. Not to trivialize any of those grander issues that are bigger than hockey, yet they can't be minimized, because they make Game 4 even trickier to forecast.
For a deeper dive on this Avs-Stars showdown, continue reading for abe Insights' preview, highlighted by the best odds from all major sportsbooks, a look at the central betting lines, key stats and more vital information to weigh prior to wagering.
Date: Sunday, August 30
Time: 6 p.m. ET
Implied Probabilities: Avalanche 56%; Stars 45%
Spread: COL -1.5 (+190); DAL +1.5 (-215)
Moneyline: COL -125; DAL +120
Injuries crushed Colorado during the 2019-20 campaign, and when the team came back for the NHL restart, many key players were healthy again. The injury bug has bitten again, though, as the Avs are without netminder Philipp Grubauer and are missing a key presence on the blue line in defenseman Erik Johnson.
Avalanche goalie Pavel Francouz split playing time but is suddenly pressed into full-time duty for Grubauer, and he'll be hard-pressed to meet the standard set by Dallas' Anton Khudobin. Even though the Stars netminder is already filling in for Ben Bishop, he's fared extremely well in the playoffs — aside from the end of his last start.
5.25 vs. 2.58: Usually it's more useful to contrast the teams. In this instance, the first number is Dallas' average goals per game over the past four contests. The second figure is how the Stars fared in the regular season, which ranked 26th out of 31 teams.
.913 vs. .857: Francouz has appeared in two fewer playoff games than Grubauer, yet has a better power play save percentage against the man advantage. Both Avs goalies are better than Khudobin, who has a .833 SV% in such situations.
15.86 vs. -1.07: Finally, to reflect Colorado's dominant puck possession, MoneyPuck.com shows the Avs' per 60-minute Corsi ratio to be well in the positive, whereas Dallas gets outshot on average in 5-on-5 situations.
A wild third period in Game 3 saw these teams score three goals apiece. It was almost like three games in one 20-minute snapshot. Colorado looked to have blown a 3-1 lead and destined for a 0-3 series deficit. Then, the Avs got off the mat, promptly scored twice and added an empty netter for good measure.
Can Khudobin recover from a lapse in play during the final period of Game 3? That's really the question. Dallas' defense has been stout all year long, and perhaps the club tried to play too conservatively down the stretch, which cost them dearly.
The 'Lanches must use their prior victory as a launching point to make this a real series. Going into a 3-1 hole would be almost insurmountable. If not for Nathan MacKinnon and the loaded stable of forwards Colorado has, the series would be virtually over. Even against the Stars' defenders, though, the Avs have been productive on offense.
MacKinnon and Co. can even take some solace from Game 2. The MVP finalist opened the scoring as the Avalanche jumped out to a 2-0 lead. Unfortunately for them, Dallas' dormant offense that's disappeared for long stretches this season erupted for five unanswered goals.
What's important for the Stars is to continue their bold tactics and keep taking the fight to Colorado. They've discovered serious offense when they're not on their heels playing defense all the time — that is, until the final 10 minutes or so of their last outing.
Given how dominant the Avs are capable of being when it comes to possessing the puck and having a high volume of players who can flat-out score — not to mention Colorado being new to the sports betting scene — action should considerably favor the Avalanche spread and moneyline.
Dallas hasn't recently flashed the defensive form it showed during the rest of 2019-20, and with Colorado lacking elite ability in that area, expect bettors to keep riding the Over with the majority of goal total wagers.
Note: Odds current as of 8:05 a.m. ET on Sunday, August 30.
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