Gagnon shoots Stars to Game 7 showdown

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Texas battled back from a pair of one-goal deficits before Aaron Gagnon scored 18:32 into overtime to lift the Stars to a 3-2 road win over Hamilton on Monday at Copps Coliseum, setting up a winner-take-all Game 7 in the Western Conference Finals.

The teams, who have extended to overtime in four of the six games so far this series, will collide one final time on Wednesday night in Hamilton, with the winner advancing to take on Hershey in the 2010 Calder Cup Finals.

The Bulldogs appeared on their way to securing that berth in Game 6, as they took 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the first and second periods, respectively.

Rookie Gabriel Dumont put Hamilton on top with 16:58 left in the opening frame, but Stars defenseman Garrett Stafford answered on the power play midway through the second.

Rearguard Shawn Belle restored the Bulldogs’ one-goal advantage with a power play goal of his own at 17:51 of the second period, and Stars forward Scott McCulloch tied it once more 5:56 into the third stanza.

The teams then played scoreless hockey until Gagnon ended it with his sixth goal of the playoffs and first game-winner. Rookie Jamie Benn picked up his second assist of the night on the tally, and defenseman Matt Stephenson was also credited with a helper.

With the victory, Texas improved to 5-2 in overtime this postseason and 2-0 overall in elimination games, with both victories occurring on the road.

Travis Morin also had two assists for the Stars, and goaltender Matt Climie earned the victory with an AHL-playoff high 51 saves on 53 shots.

Western Conference Finals – Series “N” (best-of-7)
N1-Hamilton Bulldogs vs. W2-Texas Stars
Game 1 – Fri., May 14 – HAMILTON 3, Texas 2 (OT)
Game 2 – Sun., May 16 – HAMILTON 3, Texas 1
Game 3 – Wed., May 19 – TEXAS 5, Hamilton 4 (OT)
Game 4 – Fri., May 21 – TEXAS 2, Hamilton 1 (OT)
Game 5 – Sat., May 22 – Hamilton 3, TEXAS 0
Game 6 – Mon., May 24 – Texas 3, HAMILTON 2 (OT)
Game 7 – Wed., May 26 – Texas at Hamilton, 7:30