The Calgary Flames and Dallas Stars have gone back-and-forth in a thrilling Round of 16 series that's tied at two heading into Tuesday's Game 5 in the Edmonton bubble.
Both Stars wins came in Games 2 and 4 by scores of 5-4, with the most recent one being especially tense. Joe Pavelski completed his hat trick with just 12 seconds left in regulation, and netted the winner in overtime.
Can Calgary halt Dallas' momentum, or will the Stars ride that to push the Flames to the brink of elimination? Read on for abe Insights' betting preview, which has analysis for the main lines, the best available odd, key statistics and more.
Date: Tuesday, August 18
Time: 5:30 p.m. ET
Implied Probabilities: Flames 48%; Stars 55%
Spread: CGY +1.5 (-245); DAL -1.5 (+230)
Moneyline: CGY +110; DAL -120
The goalie situation is one to monitor for both sides, since play between the pipes is paramount in the postseason Between Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin, the Stars arguably boast the best 1-2 goalie punch in the playoffs. Bishop has been injured, though, and is still considered unfit to play ahead of Game 5.
Thus, Khudobin will start opposite Cam Talbot, who's been stellar in posting a 5-3 postseason mark with a 2.19 GAA. Talbot's 57 saves were wasted in Game 4's loss, though, and the Flames must play better defensively to lessen their netminder's workload.
.509 vs. -.379: Per MoneyPuck.com, these were the numbers for Khudobin and Talbot respectively in save percentage above expected for 2019-20. Among goalies who played at least 26 games, Khudobin was third, while Talbot was 35th, meaning the former can better thwart quality scoring chances and shabby defense in front of him.
32.1 vs. 15.4: The Flames lead the NHL in power play percentage during these playoffs thus far. Although Dallas isn't converting at an awful rate, this disparity could prove to be the difference in the series — or at least close the gap in goalie play.
72.4 vs. 81.0: In the time after the All-Star break, the Stars ranked 28th out of 31 in penalty killing percentage. They have a 73.9% kill rate in the postseason, so the bad trend has followed them, whereas Calgary's percentage has improved from 81% to 85.3%.
Credit Talbot for how he's raised his game when it's really mattered. He was relegated to backup for most of the 2019-20 campaign behind David Rittich, but his 35-save shutout in Game 3 ensured his grip on the starting job. Talbot's encore act was going well all things considered until the Stars lit the lamp with an extra attacker late.
It's actually Khudobin who's regressed from his sterling regular-season form, where he went 16-8-4 with a 2.22 GAA. He's only 2-3 with a 2.68 GAA in the playoffs, so it stands to reason Khudobin is due for a signature performance — and what better time than a tiebreaking face-off on Tuesday?
One encouraging sign for the Stars is the life and fight their attack showed to avoid going down in the series 3-1. They doused the Flames and prevented a potential wildfire that would've burned their Stanley Cup hopes. Despite an elite defense, Dallas has adapted to win two high-scoring games, which bodes well for the future should the club advance.
After failing to log a point in five prior outings, Stars forward Tyler Seguin got on the stat sheet with two assists in Game 4's win. Seguin needs to continue stepping up, along with captain Jamie Benn, if Dallas is meant to string together victories.
Calgary has a deeper, multifaceted offense, with eight different multi-goal scorers, led by Sam Bennett's seven. He lit the lamp twice on Sunday, so Bennett is riding a hot streak entering the Flames' most pivotal contest.
As the odds show, this one could go either way. Between the payout on the spread, Khudobin's general edge at goalie and how well the Stars have overcome letting up more goals than they're accustomed to, look for bets to favor Dallas' moneyline and spread.
Two of four meetings in this series have emphatically hit the Over, and Game 1's 3-2 score was probably a push at most sportsbooks. Bettors are likely to keep riding that trend as a result until these teams shore up, but that leaves more upside to wager on the Under.
Note: Odds current as of 1:05 p.m. ET on Tuesday, August 18.
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