HAMILTON – The Hamilton Bulldogs threw everything they had at Matt Climie, but couldn’t end the Texas Stars’ season.
Climie stopped 51 shots, including 13 in overtime, and Aaron Gagnon scored the winner as the Stars came back to force Game 7 in the American Hockey League Western Conference final with a 3-2 win over the Hamilton Bulldogs on Monday.
“Sometimes it takes a guy a little bit to get going,” Texas coach Glen Gulutzan said of Climie, who played his best game of the playoffs since replacing the injured Brent Krahn.
All three of the Stars’ victories in this series have come in overtime.
“We got 53 shots, we must have done something right,” said Bulldogs coach Guy Boucher.
Gagnon scored 18:32 into overtime on a feed from Jamie Benn, who had two assists in the game to tie Chris Bourque of the Hershey Bears for the playoff scoring lead at 23 points.
Hamilton led 2-1 after 40 minutes on goals by Gabriel Dumont and Shawn Belle, but Scott McCulloch scored for the Stars with 14 minutes to play in regulation to force overtime.
Garrett Stafford had the other goal for Texas.
Gagnon’s winner was one Bulldogs goalie Curtis Sanford should have stopped. Benn gathered the puck behind the net and chipped it in front. Sanford couldn’t find the puck, which was sitting right between his legs, and Gagnon tapped it in.
Sanford made 35 saves.
With Game 7 set for Wednesday in Hamilton, the Bulldogs may be in line for some reinforcements. Their parent club, the Montreal Canadiens, were eliminated from the NHL playoffs by the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday.
Forwards Tom Pyatt and Ben Maxwell, as well as defenceman P.K. Subban are all possibilities, but Boucher said he didn’t know if any of the three would be available.