Gagnon powers Stars past Peoria 4-2 with natural hat trick

Texas opened up the scoring early coming off a sequence that the Rivermen would soon like to forget. Lars Eller and Mitch Love managed to both receive separate minor penalties during the same play. This gave Texas a full two minutes on the 5-on-3 advantage. Texas would not disappoint. Aaron Gagnon scored one minute into the five on three, assisted by Stafford and Hutchinson.

Gagnon scored again just 83 seconds later, this time not on the power play. Again, Aaron Gagnon beat Joe Fallon. This time he was assisted by Greg Rallo and Max Fortunus. Peoria would take a timeout. Texas ended up outshooting the Rivermen 11-7 in the first period.

Gagnon decided he hadn't had enough yet in the second period. With a shot from the high right wing circle, Aaron pinged one off the pipe and beat Fallon for the third time on the night. It is only the second hat-trick in Texas history and the first natural hat-trick in Stars history. Matt Stephenson collected his 3rd assist and 3rd point of the year on the play.

Before the period was out, Texas would surrender one goal. On the power play, Peoria beat Matt Climie off a juicy rebound, and we would go to the locker room with the score 3-1.

To start the third, Ryan Reaves crushed Peters in the Stars zone and earned himself a two minute minor for roughing. Texas wasted no time whatsoever as Perttu Lindgren snapped one from the left-wing circle past Fallon glove-side high for a 4-1 lead just eight seconds into the power play.

Just one minute later, Brent Sonne picked off a Texas pass that was sent cross ice to Pascal Pelletier who scored his 15th of the year. Matt Climie tried to get back to the puck but actually fell backwards flat on his butt trying to make it across the crease.

Texas held on for the rest of the third to keep it 4-2 and preserve the win. This was a big game for the Stars who are trying to lock up home-ice advantage in the playoffs. With the win, Texas passed Rockford for 2nd place in the West Division and brought their magic number down to 8 to make the playoffs. The drop of 4 is due to beating the team closest to making the playoffs (#5 seed Peoria). Texas closed out the season series with Peoria at 4-3-1.

Matt Climie seemed to track the puck well tonight and stopped a lot of good chances as well. This weekend's games in Rockford and Peoria have to give Texas confidence for the next 5 they have on the road. Texas is in action again on Tuesday night in Milwaukee.

Tonight's lines:

Tr. Ludwig
Ty. Ludwig

Injuries, scratches, and notes:
Wilson and McCulloch (injured)
Gazdic, Graham, and Shelast (scratched)
Benn (call-up)

Offensive and defensive lines were shuffled quite a bit on the night. Tyler Ludwig played his first shift of his pro career in tonight's game. He wears the number 3, like his father did in Dallas.

Tonight's attendance was 4,795.

AHL Gamesheet - Texas at Peoria - March 21 2010