The Edmonton Oilers’ margin for error is already very slim, and they’re facing a team that excels at keeping games tight when it’s playing for a second night in a row.
The Oilers are the narrow -105 home underdog (bet $105 to win $100) on the NHL betting lines for Thursday at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com, while the Dallas Stars are a slim -115 away favorite, with a 5.5-goal total. Dallas, which sits in the first wild-card position in the Western Conference with Edmonton on the outside looking in on the playoff picture, has a tight turnaround after defeating the Calgary Flames 2-1 on Wednesday.
Dallas is only 3-7 in the second leg of back-to-back games this season, according to the OddsShark NHL Database, but eight of those 10 contests have gone UNDER with an average total of just 4.4 goals, which means the onus is on the Oilers to avoid the defensive lapses that have often offset the scoring fireworks from Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
This is the third and final meeting of the season between the clubs, with the home teams having won each contest. Dallas won 4-1 at home in the last matchup on December 3, with Jujhar Khaira scoring the lone Edmonton goal. Seven days earlier, Edmonton won 1-0 in overtime behind a goal from Oscar Klefbom and 28 saves from Mikko Koskinen.
On Tuesday, the Oilers soundly defeated the lowly Los Angeles Kings 8-4, with Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins each scoring hat tricks. McDavid had one goal among his four points, while Zack Kassian also scored and eight players had multiple-point nights.
The Oilers are 3-6 at home this season against Central Division teams, which is slightly poorer than Dallas’ 4-6 away record against the Pacific Division. Dallas has a league-best 2.24 goals-against average, nearly a full goal per game better than the Oilers’ 25th-ranked 3.12 GAA. But Koskinen has fared well in his two starts against Dallas and has a 7-3-1 record with a 3.09 GAA and .906 save percentage in 11 games this month, which is respectable given his circumstances on an Oilers team that is 27th in the 31-team NHL in shot differential.
The Oilers are 19th in the NHL in goal scoring, averaging 2.9 goals per game, while the Stars are 29th, averaging 2.5. Edmonton has the NHL’s ninth-ranked power play (21.6 percent) and 30th-ranked penalty kill (74.2). Dallas has the 16th-ranked power play (19.3 percent) and fifth-ranked penalty kill (82.0).
With 76 points in the standings, the Oilers are seven points behind the Colorado Avalanche for the final Western Conference wild-card berth. Edmonton has six games left, one more than Colorado and the ninth-place Arizona Coyotes. The Oilers host the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday in their penultimate home game of the regular season, then visit the Vegas Golden Knights and the aforementioned Avalanche back-to-back on Monday and Tuesday. The Stars face the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday to complete a four-game western Canada road trip.