Dallas Stars: Denis Gurianov is breaking through

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /

Denis Gurianov was the Dallas Stars’ leading scorer last season. He scored 20 goals and added nine more in their postseason run. He was an integral part of the power play, was always noticeable on the ice, and is one of the fastest players in the NHL.

This season, however, has been a struggle for Gurianov. He started off hot with two goals as the Stars beat the Predators in the first two games of the season. However, he went on to score only three goals in the next 29 games from there. This included scoreless streaks of 15, 10, and 7 games. On April Fools Day, the Stars faced an important matchup against the Nashville Predators and Gurianov found a way to make a difference.

Dallas Stars’ Denis Gurianov is on top of his game

Gurianov was joined on a line with Jamie Benn and Radek Faksa in Nashville due to the many injuries in the lineup. The Stars needed other players to step up as most of the offense had been coming from the top line of Joe Pavelski, Roope Hintz, and Jason Robertson.

Gurianovs’ line was by far the best in the game. They were noticeable on the forecheck, constantly possessing the puck in the offensive zone, and added a goal on the power play when Gurianovs’ shot deflected off Benn into the net. That was Benn’s first power-play goal of the season and was the start of a hot streak for both him and Gurianov.

Since that night, Gurianov has three goals and five assists including three goals and three assists in the last four games. He has shown far more confidence with the puck as he flies down the wing and takes the extra time needed to make plays. Last week against Columbus, he scored two goals and added an assist in what was his best game of the season.

"“That’s his best game by far,” Rick Bowness said. “The thing we’ve asked of Denis is that you have to work, and you have to compete, and if you do those two things everything else will take care of itself. Everything will fall into line.”"

His first goal was a hard-working gritty goal around the net which is usually the case when a player is in a drought. His second goal was a sign from the hockey gods that he may be back on his game as he banked a shot in from the corner off of a defenseman’s skate in front of the net.

More from Dallas Stars

Gurianov responded the next game with a beautiful goal off the rush as he and Benn played a give-and-go and Gurianov finished the play with a one-timer into a wide-open net. The play itself was beautiful to watch and it showed the confidence, patience, and skill of both Gurianov and Benn.

His celebration after these goals says everything about how his season has gone. He simply shrugged his shoulders and smiled as he hugged his teammates. While he has kept his attitude positive, it has no doubt been tough on him this season and he is known to be even tougher on himself so it has to feel good to break through and help the team win.

"“I just try to not think about it too much and just go on the ice and play my game,” Gurianov said of the recent struggles. “Sometimes the puck just doesn’t go in the net. It happens, and that’s OK. You just keep trying.”"

The 23-year-old still has the trust of his coaches and they know this is all part of growing into an NHL player. Gurianov has averaged 16:05 of ice time, three minutes higher than last season. The fact that he was able to lead the Stars in scoring last season while only averaging 13 minutes of ice time shows the true potential to be a scorer in this league for many years to come.

His play along with Jamie Benn, Roope Hintz, Joe Pavelski, and rookie Jason Robertson has the Stars sitting only two points out of a playoff spot with three games in hand on the Predators ahead of them.

Look for Gurianov to continue to score and watch out for him if the Stars are able to make the postseason.