NHL Friday best bets: Panthers, Flames to close things out

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On Wednesday night, we successfully backed the Florida Panthers and Calgary Flames to pick up wins inside 60 minutes. The stakes are higher now - with both trying to eliminate their opponents - but that's not going to stop us from backing them once again. Let's dive into why.

Panthers (-180) @ Capitals (+150)

The Washington Capitals sure appear to have squandered this series. Up 2-1 and at home, they held a lead late into the third period of Game 4 but blew it in the dying minutes and lost in overtime.

Washington followed that up by swallowing an even tougher pill, throwing away a commanding 3-0 lead on the road in the span of eight minutes. It never recovered and ended up conceding five unanswered.

Not only have they thrown away multiple opportunities to jump in the driver's seat, but they've also given the Panthers plenty of reason to feel good about themselves. Florida won consecutive games and really started to dictate the run of play at five-on-five to the level we expected.

Through five games, the Panthers controlled around 54% of the expected goals and scoring chances, giving them a roughly 8% edge. It's taken time for that to shine through in most games, but when all's said and done, those edges lead to victories.

Look for the Panthers to pick up where they left off in Game 5 and send this veteran Capitals team packing with a more complete effort.

Bet: Panthers in regulation (-115)

Flames (-165) @ Stars (+140)

Jake Oettinger is the only reason this series is close. The Dallas Stars are getting absolutely rolled in terms of dictating the run of play. While some nights are better than others, the results are consistently poor.

The Calgary Flames controlled 58% of the expected goals at five-on-five, placing them behind only the Colorado Avalanche and Pittsburgh Penguins in the playoffs. They won the expected goals battle at five-on-five in every game thus far.

The series looks even more lopsided when including special teams, as Calgary's xG share rises to nearly 60%.

Oettinger's .956 save percentage really does tell the full story. He's provided the best goaltending imaginable, and yet the Stars still find themselves on the brink of elimination.

That's problematic - especially considering Oettinger's numbers are likely to dip as the sample of games grows. He's unlikely to reach another level, but it's possible he drops one or two.

That spells trouble for the Stars, who look lifeless anytime their top three forwards aren't on the ice. The next wave of stars - no pun intended - simply haven't been up to the task.

Of the 15 Stars to play 40 or more minutes at five-on-five thus far, John Klingberg, Jamie Benn, and Tyler Seguin are the team's three worst in expected goals for percentage. Each is "helping" the Stars control 35% or less.

With Dallas' high-priced support players getting their teeth kicked in to such an extent, it's hard to imagine them hanging around for a Game 7. Look for the Flames to close things out inside 60.

Bet: Flames in regulation (+100)

Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ToddCordell.

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NHL Friday best bets: Panthers, Flames to close things out
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