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Eastern Conference Final betting: Will Rangers up the pace in Game 5?

Bruce Bennett / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Game 4 between the Rangers and Panthers looked a lot like Game 3.

Florida dominated even-strength play with over double the expected goals (xG) share. But Igor Shesterkin saved New York's bacon, turning aside a ton of shots and, in front of him, the team converted a good percentage of its high-danger chances. The matchup profiled like every Rangers game during these Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The main difference, of course, was that the Panthers were the team to score in overtime. The power-play game-winner came after a series of poor decisions and Blake Wheeler - playing for the first time all postseason and for just nine minutes Tuesday - not trusting Shesterkin to make a big save on a partial breakaway and taking a penalty early in OT.

Game 5: Panthers (-125) @ Rangers (+105)

After losing Games 2 and 3, Florida turned desperation into five-on-five dominance and got a great showing from Sergei Bobrovsky (0.44 goals saved above expected) in the fourth contest of the series to pull out a 3-2 victory.

The problem with backing the Panthers is that even their best effort leaves them with just two goals on 27 high-danger chances (HDC) against Shesterkin, who gave up a fluky goal in Game 4 to hurt his numbers after allowing four in Game 3. As the series shifts back to New York, it's possible we haven't seen his best.

Meanwhile, the Rangers continue to sit pretty after getting fewer chances and converting 5-of-19 even-strength HDC in the last three games and then hoping for the best in overtime.

Back in the Big Apple for Game 5, the market shifted its moneyline pricing to where it was for Games 1 and 2, lined at close to a pick'em. Those games were essentially square on the spreadsheet, with the Rangers' xG of 2.68 narrowly topping the Panthers' of 2.56, and Florida barely taking the high-danger chance category 20-19.

Given its struggles to pull away from New York with a considerable run-of-play advantage, an even game is dangerous for Florida. Especially with the Rangers' top snipers - Mika Zibanejad (8), Artemi Panarin (6), and Chris Kreider (4) - holding scoreless streaks that won't last forever.

Returning home after a loss, New York is worth a play at even-money or better.

Best bet: Rangers moneyline (+105)

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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