Denis Gurianov is smart.
The 23-year-old winger is taking law classes in his native Russia with the hope of one day using the knowledge in his career beyond hockey.
He's also smart enough to keep things simple.
Gurianov led the Stars in regular season goal-scoring with 20 in 2019-20, and now leads them in playoff goal-scoring with nine, after banging home the overtime game-winner Monday.
Gurianov played 21 games for the Stars last season, meaning he still has rookie status. Right now, he's on the way to setting a few franchise playoff rookie scoring records. And he is indeed a playoff rookie. He didn't suit up for one postseason game last year.
Video: DAL@VGK, Gm5: Gurianov sends Stars to Cup Final
Because of that, Gurianov said he is not focused on goals (nine) or points (18) or games played (21).
"I just come in the locker room before the game and just try to play my game," Gurianov said when asked what his focus is. "I don't think about anything like how many goals I scored or how many assists I got or how many games I've played. Every game is a new experience for me, and I just try to play my game, do my best and help my team to win."
Staying in the moment has been good for Gurianov, because he has displayed no nerves when called upon in big moments. Dallas was given a power play early in overtime Monday, and Gurianov unleashed a fierce one-timer off a pass from John Klingberg.
"Every practice, he's taking so many one-timers," Stars center Tyler Seguin said. "He's out there early, he stays on late. There's been no conversations with him being a rookie, saying 'Hey you've got to do this. You've got to do that.' He's pretty great at just being humble and doing those things automatically. He's got one of the best shots on the power play I've seen in a while, and when he gets that chance, good things happen, and tonight it was evident."
The fact that Klingberg and Gurianov were out together was also fortuitous. The Stars' power play was struggling early, so interim coach Rick Bowness switched Klingberg and Miro Heiskanen as the point men.
Video: Benn on Stars advancing to Stanley Cup Final
"Well, struggle is a nice way to put it…totally ineffective for a couple times," Bowness said. "When that happens, we're lucky, we're fortunate to be in a position to have two great offensive-playing D back there with Miro and John and sometimes that's all it takes is just flip-flop one guy, and it worked tonight."
Klingberg, who also assisted on Joel Kiviranta's power-play goal that tied the game in the third period, said he enjoyed playing with the second unit.
"I think that's something that we've been doing if it's not working really good," Klingberg said. "Just flip the units a little bit. With 10 guys playing power play, we're all on the same page. They can throw us with different groups sometimes, maybe get a spark and I think you saw that today and obviously we got two big ones at the end there."
Of course, when Gurianov is an option, that helps a lot.
"It's been amazing," Stars captain Jamie Benn said. "He's put in a lot of hard work, and he's got all the tools to be a great goal scorer and now you're seeing it."
Benn comes up big again with key goal
Benn didn't have the greatest regular season.
He tallied 19 goals and 20 assists for 39 points in 69 games. That's a pretty big drop for a guy who once was producing better than a point a game. However, Benn has found his stride in the playoffs and is second on the team in scoring with 18 points (8 goals, 10 assists) in 21 games.
He had three goals and two assists in five games against Vegas, and had a huge goal in the third period that gave the Stars life when they were down 2-0.
Video: DAL@VGK, Gm5: Radulov sets up Benn down low
Bowness said he has seen the intensity in Benn's eyes.
"When he's dialed in like that, you can be talking to him and he's unlikely to hear you, so I just got to leave him alone," Bowness said. "But he's dialed in and he's a great leader, and again, everybody that goes after him in the regular season - points, points, points - he does so many things to help this team get in the playoffs, and clearly he's doing so many things to keep us moving forward."
Seguin said he feels it when his longtime teammate kicks into "Beast Mode."
"I didn't look him dead in the eye, but I've seen those eyes that you're probably talking about," Seguin said when asked if he saw that look on Monday. "He's our captain and leader for a reason. He knows what to do in big moments, and he seems to be doing it over and over again. We wouldn't be here if he didn't start that play today."
This is the franchise's fifth trip to the Stanley Cup Final. The Minnesota North Stars went in 1981 and 1991, losing to the Islanders and Penguins. The Stars went in 1999, beating the Sabres, and in 2000, losing to the Devils.
Vegas outshot Dallas 166-118 in the series. Stars goalie Anton Khudobin stopped 158 of 166 shots for a .952 save percentage in the series.
Dallas is 10-1 in one-goal games since entering the bubble.
The Stars are 5-0 in games that have gone past regulation in the bubble, including a shootout win over St. Louis in round-robin play. Dallas has outshot the opposition 18-4 in overtime.
Corey Perry earned a $100,000 bonus for advancing to the Stanley Cup Final. If the Stars win it all, Perry will get an additional $150,000 bonus.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.
Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika, and listen to his podcast.