Denis Gurianov is not unfamiliar with game-winning goals.
Playing in his fifth game since representing Russia at the World Junior Championships in Canada, the first round draft pick scored the game-winner Wednesday night one game after scoring the winner in Texas’ overtime win in San Antonio on Monday.
“I feel very good because we’ve won the last two games and I’ve scored twice,” Gurianov said. “I wanted to go five hole because I had big speed. I feel better (since coming back from the World Juniors). I played a lot there and now I’m playing a lot here.”
The rookie also tallied an assist on Gemel Smith’s first-period goal. All-Star defenseman Julius Honka scored his fifth goal of the season in the second period and Jason Dickinson found the back of the net early in the final period.
Gurianov scored four goals and tallied three assists for Russia at the World Junior Championships. Russia finished in third place at the tournament and, unsurprisingly, he scored the bronze medal game against Sweden.
“He’s been confident,” Stars head coach Derek Laxdal said. “We’ve elevated him in the lineup and tried to give him some more ice time because he’s got great speed. He’s scored in key moments for us and you’re starting to see him grow as a 19-year-old.”
Manitoba opened the scoring a shorthanded midway through the first period when Quinton Howden intercepted a bad pass at the blue line and the puck squirted past Bow. But Smith leveled things less than a minute later on the power play, cashing in on a rebound in front of the net.
The Moose again took the lead in the second period, this time on a power play goal tipped in by Brendan Lemieux. It was the Stars’ league-worst 43rd power play goal allowed this season.
“The first 30 minutes we were tired from the road trip and we had some tough games on the road and in San Antonio,” Laxdal said. “Then the last 30 minutes we picked it up. But those are the same you want to get two points from.”
But again Texas fought back when Honka netted a laser from the blue line with four minutes left in the period to tie the game once again.
The Stars took their first lead of the game early in the final period. Caleb Herbert did well to keep possession of the puck deep in the Manitoba zone and found Dickinson with a pinpoint pass right in front of the net. Ethan Werek picked up the second assist on the goal, giving him 100 career AHL points.
“Herbert got in there and took a look over his shoulder and found me and made a great play,” Dickinson said. “It was a great forecheck. I was lucky enough to put it home. It’s been a hectic week for us so it’s tough mentally and you’ve got to prepare yourself.”
Gurianov scored what would turn out to be the game-winner when he stole the puck at mid ice and beat the Manitoba goalie with a backhand shot, the same way he did it against Sweden.
Manitoba cut the lead to one with under three minutes to play. The Moose got a lucky deflection in front of the net when Kyle Connor’s shot deflected off a skate, but it was too little too late.
Texas goes on the road for a quick two-game road trip against the Iowa Energy Friday and Saturday night before returning home for three straight, beginning with a rematch against Manitoba on Jan. 24 at 7:30 p.m.
“We’ve got some doozies on the West Coast coming up here in February,” Laxdal said. “You dan’t have too much practice time and you can see it creep into your game a little bit. That’s part of the grind. Every team goes through it and you’ve got to find a way.”