By Stephen Hunt, The Sports Xchange
DALLAS — Heading into this season, Adam Cracknell had scored 11 career goals across parts of his seven previous NHL seasons with four different teams.
However, thanks to his first career hat trick that adds to his career-high total of 10 goals this year, Cracknell and Kari Lehtonen, who made 20 saves, led the Dallas Stars to a 6-1 win over the San Jose Sharks on Friday night at American Airlines Center.
Cracknell scored in the first, second and third periods. His final goal came 4:59 into the third when he scored with Dallas short-handed, intercepting an attempted clearance by Aaron Dell, who made 23 saves, just beyond the Sharks’ blue line. Cracknell then beat Dell with a wrist shot from the slot.
“I was trying not to think about it,” Cracknell said of the hat trick. “It’s like trying a pitch a perfect game, and everybody keeps bringing it up. To see the guys excited as they are, it’s just a great feeling to walk in the room. They know I don’t score that many goals. I guess to get that reaction from my teammates meant the most.”
Brett Ritchie, Jamie Benn and John Klingberg also scored for Dallas (30-33-11), which got three assists from Jason Spezza and two each from Remi Elie and Curtis McKenzie.
The Stars defeated the Sharks at home for the second time this week, also edging San Jose 1-0 on Monday.
“Yeah, just one of those games,” San Jose coach Peter DeBoer said. “You have a handful of those a year where nothing goes right and nobody’s got any kind of legs or energy. It was one of those nights. I don’t have any explanation for it.”
Joe Thornton scored the goal for San Jose (42-25-7), which lost a fifth consecutive game. The Sharks have been outscored 16-5 during this current skid and are 0-3-0 on their current road trip.
“Yeah, sometimes they’re going in, sometimes they’re not,” Sharks center Joe Pavelski said. “Some teams are doing a good job of taking some of our plays away, but it’s on us as players. You got to win some battles, you got to create some energy, some speed throughout the team. It’s hasn’t been one guy. It’s been all of us.”
Klingberg made it 6-1 with his 12th goal of the season just 21 seconds after Cracknell completed the hat trick, triggering a flurry of hats flying onto the ice, delaying the game briefly.
Cracknell gave Dallas an early lead 8:30 into the game. As Cracknell skated toward the visiting goal with the puck, it deflected off the right skate of Micheal Haley and through Dell’s five-hole to make it 1-0.
Ritchie doubled the Dallas lead with his 14th goal of the season 1:58 into the second period. Tyler Seguin, appearing in his 500th career game, assisted with a cross-ice pass, which Ritchie one-timed in at the near post.
After Dell denied Seguin’s one-timer from the slot 5:16 into the second period, Benn put Dallas ahead 3-0 with his 25th goal of the season. Cody Eakin won the faceoff in the left circle against Pavelski, sending the puck to Ales Hemsky, who spotted Benn open at the near post. Benn then knocked in Hemsky’s pass.
Cracknell added a second score, his ninth goal of the season, 7:08 into the second period. Spezza, who was returning from a two-game absence with back spasms, picked up his second assist of the game.
San Jose ended the shutout 49 seconds later when Thornton scored his seventh goal of the season off a rebound with the Sharks on the power play. Brent Burns took the initial shot from the slot, which rang off the left post. Thornton then collected and slipped in the rebound six seconds into the power play.
Dallas led 4-1 at the second intermission.
“It’s nice to get rewarded. We’ve had a couple games where I’ve had to stand and talk about missed opportunities and execution, and it’s been a pretty common theme,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “(Thursday) night was the same, but (Friday) we made a lot of real nice plays on the goals.”
San Jose lost defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic to injury early in the second period, but DeBoer didn’t have any update on Vlasic’s status postgame.