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'I just had to find my game': Gurianov's confidence shows in Stars' win

The young winger scores twice and cements the team's belief in him as Dallas wins its third straight game

by Jeff Odom @jeffodom /

DALLAS -- When Denis Gurianov was optioned to the minors two weeks ago, Stars coach Jim Montgomery said the decision was made to help the young winger regain his confidence.

"He's got to go down and earn his way back," Montgomery said at the time.


[WATCH: All Stars vs. Ducks highlights]


The 12th overall pick by the Stars in 2015, Gurianov took the message to heart and responded with a hat trick in his first AHL game on Oct. 11. That led to another opportunity with the big club three days later.

Gurianov hasn't looked back since. And if Thursday is any indication of what's to come, he doesn't look to be going back any time soon.

Blossoming as an offensive threat, Gurianov took another step in his growth against the Ducks, scoring twice on a pair of first-period backhanders to provide all the offense the Stars needed in a 2-1 win at American Airlines Center.

Video: ANA@DAL: Gurianov roofs backhander for terrific goal

It was Gurianov's second and third career NHL goals -- his first since Nov. 10, 2018 against Nashville.

"I think I found my game when I got sent down to the Texas Stars," said Gurianov, who skated on the fourth line with veteran Andrew Cogliano and Justin Dowling. 

"I got some ice time -- power play, penalty kill. I played a couple games, scored a couple goals there and I just had to find my game."

Thursday's victory -- the Stars' third straight to improve their overall record to 4-7-1 -- wasn't the first time Gurianov has showed flashes of potential, however. Montgomery said things really began building on Saturday in Philadelphia

"In the Philly game, I thought he could have had a hat trick with how good he was. … His checking skills, all over the place, have really improved," Montgomery said. 

Video: ANA@DAL: Gurianov nets second backhander of game

"You can tell his confidence is growing. He's finishing a lot of checks and causing turnovers. ... I think mentally he's starting to believe that not only can he do it, but he can do it really well in this league."

That belief was on full display against Anaheim. 

Gurianov got the Stars on the board on his first shift two minutes, 42 seconds in, taking a pass from Taylor Fedun and skating into the circle before lifting a nifty shot over the shoulder of John Gibson.

"The first one, I got lucky a little bit," he admitted.

If it was luck, the sequel was all skill 15 minutes later when Gurianov did it again -- same area, same angle, same shot. This time, he zipped the puck five-hole through the pads of Gibson.

Video: ANA@DAL: Gurianov on two-goal effort in Stars' win

"I think it just shows what kind of player he can turn into with his speed," Cogliano said of Gurianov. "Not many guys in the league actually can skate like him."

From there, it was all Ben Bishop, who allowed only a second-period goal from Max Comtois and staved off a late flurry by the Ducks in the final minutes to help Dallas survive for the win. He finished with 29 saves.

"We are finding ways to win," said Stars forward Corey Perry, who finished with four shots against his former team. 

"It's not pretty, but it's been effective and it's getting the job done."

Fast fact

Video: ANA@DAL: Montgomery says Stars have to keep building

The Stars have now won seven straight games on home ice against Anaheim. The club's longest home win streak is 12 games against the Arizona Coyotes.

He said it

Video: ANA@DAL: Perry on 'weird' reunion with former team

"It was weird. But then I got that first shift out of the way and it was just a hockey game. It was fun. There was some back-and-fourths out there, some jabs."

-- Perry on facing the Ducks for the first time as a member of the Stars. The forward spent his first 14 seasons with Anaheim before signing a one-year deal with Dallas in the offseason.


Up next

Video: ANA@DAL: Cogliano on win over 'really tough' Ducks

The Stars face Pittsburgh on Saturday at 7 p.m. to continue their homestand at American Airlines Center. Dallas has not beaten the Penguins in its last four tries, dropping the last meeting, 4-2, on Oct. 18.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.

Jeff Odom covers the Stars for Follow him on Twitter @jeffodom.

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