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Cracknell's hat trick fuels 6-1 win over Sharks

Dallas forward's career year continues with first three-goal game

by Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge

Adam Cracknell's career year just keeps getting better. Cracknell notched his first career hat trick to lead the Dallas Stars to a 6-1 rout of the San Jose Sharks at American Airlines Center Friday night.

Cracknell, who is in his 11th professional season, said it wasn't just his first hat trick in the NHL, but his first at the pro level. He wasn't even quite sure how to celebrate.

"Never had one before," he said. "I thought about doing [Antoine Roussel's] celly there. It was a great feeling. It doesn't happen, but maybe it will happen more now."

Cracknell scored in the first period to put the Stars up 1-0, tallied off the rush in the second to make it a 4-0 game and then scored on a shorthanded breakaway in the third to give Dallas a 5-1 lead.

"Everyone else was bringing up the [hat trick], but I was trying to not think about it," Cracknell said. "It's like trying to pitch a perfect game and guys keep bringing it up. To see the guys as excited as they were, it was just a great feeling to walk into the room. To get that reaction from my teammates, that meant the most."

The three goals pushed Cracknell's career-high goal total to ten and his career-high points total to 15. The 31-year-old forward, who was expected to play in the AHL this season, has also played in a career-high 61 NHL games.

"Yeah, it's pretty nice for him," said Stars center Jason Spezza, who played on Cracknell's line Friday. "It's one he'll never forget, for sure, and he's had a really good year for us, so it's really nice to see him get rewarded like that on a night like this."

"It's always good to see those guys that put the work in," said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. "He's had a good year, a career year. He's shooting the puck well. He's the first guy at the rink a lot of times. He's the guy that's always out there with our goalie coach shooting at the goaltenders. It was fun to see. He had a good night."

Brett Ritchie, Jamie Benn, and John Klingberg also scored for Dallas. Spezza, who was back in the lineup after missing two games with back spasms, recorded three assists and Curtis McKenzie and Remi Elie each picked up two assists. Kari Lehtonen stopped 20 of 21 shots for the Stars, who are 2-0-1 in their past three games.

The Sharks (42-25-7) lost their fifth straight game. The Sharks have scored just five goals during the five-game slide and they gave up six Friday night.

"Just one of those games," said Sharks coach Peter DeBoer. "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. I felt we prepared the right way the last couple days. I thought we felt pretty good about ourselves. Then, the puck dropped, and everything went bad."

The Stars had the better chances in the first period and scored the only goal. Cracknell drove the net with the puck, and it bounced into the net off Sharks forward Micheal Haley to put the Stars up 1-0 at the 8:30 mark.

The Stars had a great chance to extend the lead at the 15:25 mark of the first, but Sharks goaltender Aaron Dell stopped Benn on a breakaway.

The Stars erupted for three goals in a 5:10 span of the second period to build a 4-0 lead. The Stars extended the lead to 2-0 early in the second when Elie put a shot on net, Tyler Seguin picked off the rebound and set up Ritchie, who scored from the bottom of the right circle at the 1:58 mark. The Stars made it 3-0 at the 5:19 mark. After Cody Eakin won a faceoff in the offensive zone, Ales Hemsky set up Benn who scored from close range.

Dallas extended the lead to 4-0 less than two minutes later with a goal off the rush. Jason Spezza set up Cracknell who scored of the rush at the 7:08 mark.

"It was a great play by [Jamie] Oleksiak getting it up to [Spezza], and he has elite passing vision," Cracknell said. "I just had my stick on the ice, he hit it, and I just hit it as hard as I could."

The Sharks got on the board at 7:57 of the second, cashing in on their second power play of the game. Brent Burns put a shot on net that hit the post, and Joe Thornton tapped in the rebound to make it a 4-1 game.

Cracknell got the hat trick with a shorthanded goal at 4:59 of the third. Dell threw the puck up the middle of the ice and Cracknell, who was coming off the bench, picked it off and broke in on net alone and scored on a wrist shot to make it a 5-1 game.

"[Dell] just kind of misplayed the puck as I was coming off the bench and I figured I'd just shoot it and hope for the best," Cracknell said.

Just 21 seconds after Cracknell's goal, Spezza set up Klingberg on a two-on-one, and the Stars had a 6-1 lead that stick for the rest of the game.

Notes: Hamhuis, Hudler sit with injuries

*Defenseman Dan Hamhuis and forward Jiri Hudler both sat out Friday's game with lower-body injuries. Stars coach Lindy Ruff said Hamhuis could have played, but the Stars decided to rest him. Hudler is probably out for Sunday's game in New Jersey, and the Stars may call up a forward for the upcoming road trip.

*Coming into this season, Adam Cracknell had eleven goals in 134 NHL games. He has ten in 61 games this season.

*Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen has stopped 74 of 77 shots over the past three games.

*The Stars outshot the Sharks 29-21. San Jose had a 62-58 advantage in shot attempts.

*Cracknell led the Stars with five shots on goal. Brett Ritchie was tops with ten shot attempts.

*The Stars were 0-2 on the power play and 2-3 on the penalty kill.

*The Stars won 33 of 63 faceoffs. Radek Faksa won 11 of 17 faceoffs (65 percent).

*Tyler Seguin played in his 500th NHL game.

What's Next

The Stars head out for their final road trip of the season, a five-game trek. They play at New Jersey, Montreal, Boston, Carolina, and Tampa Bay.

Stars Lineup

Jamie Benn - Cody Eakin - Ales Hemsky
Remi Elie - Tyler Seguin - Brett Ritchie
Devin Shore - Radek Faksa - Patrick Sharp
Curtis McKenzie - Adam Cracknell - Jason Spezza

Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Jamie Oleksiak - Greg Pateryn
Patrik Nemeth - Stephen Johns

Kari Lehtonen
Antti Niemi

Scratched: None
Injured: Dan Hamhuis (lower body), Jiri Hudler (lower body), Antoine Roussel (hand), Mattias Janmark (knee)\

This story was not subject to approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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