TEXAS STARS

Texas sweeps weekend against Iowa

The Stars are 4-1-1-1 on the season, good for first in the Central Division

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The Stars knocked off the Iowa Wild in a two-game set on Friday and Saturday, winning the first game 5-4 and taking game two 3-1.

Texas improved to 4-1-1-1 on the season and jumped to first in the Central Division with the weekend sweep. Forwards Denis Gurianov and Joel L'Esperance scored goals in each game, while the youthful goaltending tandem of Landon Bow and Colton Point each nailed down a win in the pipes this weekend.

"For us to win a back-to-back here at home, coming off a road trip, and beating a very good hockey club each night was huge for us," Stars head coach Derek Laxdal said on Saturday night. "We showed a lot of character this weekend."

On Friday, the Stars erupted with four third-period goals to knock off Iowa by a score of 5-4. By hanging on late in the third, Texas handed their new Central Division rival their first loss of the season.

After a scoreless first frame, Iowa's Kyle Rau opened the scoring with a power-play goal to give the visitors a 1-0 lead. Rookie defenseman Ben Gleason got the Stars on the board with a power-play tally for his first professional goal midway through the second period to equalize the match.

The Wild restored their lead as veteran forward Mike Liambas cashed in with an early third-period marker. Four minutes later, the Stars would storm back and capture their first lead of the game as Michael Mersch and Nicholas Caamano knocked in back-to-back goals only 29 seconds apart.

Wild center Cal O'Reilly would tie the game back up less than two minutes after the Caamano goal, but Stars forwards Joel L'Esperance and Denis Gurianov -- each on NHL entry-level contracts with the Dallas Stars -- scored their fourth goals of the season to keep the Wild at bay.

"Give our guys a lot of credit for executing the adjustments we made," Laxdal said. 

On Saturday, the Stars rode a two-goal third period to their third straight victory to complete the weekend sweep with a 3-1 win over Iowa. Stars goaltender Colton Point stopped 19 of 20 shots to secure his first professional win.

Gurianov scored a goal in his fifth straight game, while veteran winger Erik Condra tallied his first as a Star. L'Esperance netted his fifth goal and team-high eighth point in the win.

Texas broke out with the game's first goal less than three minutes into the second period when L'Esperance deflected a shot from the blue line by defenseman Joel Hanley up and through the arms of the Wild goalie. L'Esperance is tied for the Stars' lead with five goals in seven games.

"He's a beast," Laxdal said. "He's a big, heavy centerman who can score, and he just seems to get better and better every game."

Colton Beck evened things up for Iowa with a goal midway through the frame. 

On a net-front scramble with ten minutes remaining in the game,  Condra -- a veteran of over 300 NHL games and a newcomer to the Texas lineup -- potted his first as a Star by tapping in a loose puck on the doorstep. 

Alone in the slot, Gurianov was fed a puck by Roope Hintz and wired it into the top of the net for the goal. Gurianov's goal was his fifth of the season, which is tied with L'Esperance for the team lead.

"I think the addition of Hintz into our lineup gave the group a little energy," Laxdal said. "And I think from training camp on, [Gurianov's] maturity in his game and his understanding of who he is as a player has taken major strides."

The Stars return to Cedar Park next weekend when they face the Chicago Wolves on Friday and the San Jose Barracuda on Saturday.

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