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Bettors get behind Stars after win over Golden Knights

Updated September 18, 2020 - 6:18 pm

The Dallas Stars made believers out of some bettors with their elimination of the Golden Knights.

The price on the Stars to defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stanley Cup Final fell at Las Vegas sportsbooks Friday. The Westgate opened the Lightning as -220 favorites (Stars +190) on Thursday night, but that price moved to Lightning -185 (Stars +165) on Friday.

Circa Sports opened the series at Lightning -240 (Stars +205) but was down to -188/+163 on Friday. The Lightning were available at as low as -180 at BetMGM. The best price on the Stars was +180 at Caesars Entertainment.

Game 1 is at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. The series will be played inside the NHL bubble in Edmonton, Alberta.

Most of the action has been from the public, Westgate sportsbook vice president of risk Ed Salmons said. A Westgate house player bet $70,000 on the Stars to win the series at +175, he said.

The Stars defeated the Knights 4-1 in the Western Conference Final, and that’s probably prompting some bettors to take a shot on Dallas against Tampa Bay, Salmons said.

“I would say that’s a factor,” he said. “People are more familiar with Dallas now, and they’re looking at that plus money.”

The series should look a lot like the Stars’ victory over the Knights, with Dallas trying to rely on its defensive strength to pull out close games. The Knights outshot the Stars 166-118 in the series but won only one game.

Salmons said he doesn’t expect the Lightning to struggle with that style like the Knights did.

“Dallas is going to try to play the identical game it played against the Knights, but Tampa has too much overall talent,” Salmons said. “The Knights didn’t work hard enough in front (of the goaltender). I would be shocked if the Lightning have the same problems scoring like the Knights did.”

Tampa Bay just battled through a similar series in the Eastern Conference Final, outshooting the defensive-minded New York Islanders 213-165 while winning in six games.

Like Salmons, handicapper Alex B. Smith (@axsmithsports) does not think the Lightning will suffer the same fate as the Knights against Dallas.

“You can’t beat Tampa Bay while being outshot by a 2-to-1 margin (at times),” he said. “… The way Dallas has played, it proves the axiom, ‘It’s better to be lucky than good.’”

Instead of laying the series price, Smith said he likes the Lightning to win the Stanley Cup in five games (+350 at the Westgate). Smith also said he is playing over 5 in Game 1 (-130), expecting the Lightning to crack the Stars’ defense.

Salmons said the Westgate would certainly prefer to have the Knights in the final.

“We’re all Knights fans in this book. We share season tickets,” he said. “It would have been great for business, great for handle. But that’s life.”

Contact Jim Barnes at jbarnes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0277. Follow @JimBarnesLV on Twitter.

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