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Western Conference Final betting: Value in backing Johnston, Stars

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After dropping Game 1 of the series, the Stars avoided heading to Edmonton down two games with a 3-1 victory Saturday night. The advantage traditionally swings to the road team that garnered an opening split, but Dallas' success away from home suggests otherwise. The Oilers, meanwhile, can argue they've been the better team so far.

Game 3: Stars (+110) @ Oilers (-130)

Looking at the first two games, the Oilers are carrying the lion's share of the play at even strength overall with an expected goal share (xG%) of 56.2% and 28 high-danger chances (HDC) to the Stars' 21. Edmonton dominated the first period of Game 2 with nine HDC and an 85% xG share. But the remaining six periods, including the first overtime of Game 1, show two teams that are essentially equal, and in the last two periods of Game 2, the Stars shuttered the Oilers' offense, limiting them to just three HDC and continuing to stay disciplined.

The Oilers are now at 20 consecutive penalty kills - a 20% power play should have scored four goals against Edmonton over the last six games - and no matter how you spread out those missing goals, there's little chance the Oilers would have survived the Canucks or won Game 1 without this stretch.

What if the Stars, who have a 24% power play during the regular season and playoffs, get 12 power plays over the next four games? Would the Oilers, due for regression, withstand the addition of three goals against?

The Oilers should want to play this series at five-on-five, but that supposedly favors the Stars, and two games shouldn't overwrite all the information we have coming into this series.

According to our series preview, our target price for the Stars' moneyline in games played in Edmonton is +115. However, that's a by-the-numbers valuation based on overall team strength that doesn't account for Dallas' excellence on the road. A 5-1 postseason mark has followed the Stars' league-best regular-season road record.

In the postseason, the Stars' home xG share is 50/50 with their opponent, which is partly why they're 4-5 at the American Airlines Center. However, they've boosted that to 59% on the road (up from a league-best 56% in the regular season).

The Stars are better on the road than at home, so a moneyline a shade below our technical target price is worth betting on the underdog.

Best bet: Stars moneyline (+110)

Evander Kane: Over 2.5 shots

Kane's shot volume is drastically improving after a very quiet start to the playoffs. He's recorded at least three shots in four consecutive games, attempting eight shots or more in three of them - including both contests in Dallas.

Although the Stars are one of the league's best shot-suppression teams, Kane has a remarkably strong track record against them.

Kane has faced the Stars five times this year, including the playoffs, and averaged 3.8 shots and more than eight attempts while clearing in four of those matchups.

The Stars have done a great job limiting Leon Draisaitl as a shooter, holding him to just three shot attempts in both games this series. They're taking away his time and space and forcing him to put the puck on the stick of his teammates, which is evidently benefiting Kane and his volume.

As an added bonus, Kane's season hit rate is 10% higher when playing on home ice.

Look for him to test Jake Oettinger a few times in Game 3.

Odds: -114 (playable to -130)

Wyatt Johnston: Over 2.5 shots

Johnston's a road warrior. He hit in eight of his past 10 away games while averaging 4.5 shots on 8.4 attempts. Those numbers are drastically better than his home totals (2.1 shots and 6.2 attempts) over the same span.

It's not abnormal to see such a gulf in Johnston's splits, as that's been the case with him all season long. He cleared this total in just 44% of his home games while posting an impressive 63% hit rate on the road.

Jason Robertson and Roope Hintz generally see the opposing team's best players, freeing up Johnston for easier matchups in which he takes full advantage.

Robertson was recently taken off Johnston's line - he centered Robertson and Logan Stankoven for a short stint - and Hintz is a possibility to return to the Stars' line in Game 3. Thus, Johnston should get less attention at five-on-five.

Odds: -140 (playable to -150)

Matt Russell is the lead betting analyst for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on social media @mrussauthentic.

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