- Associated Press - Friday, March 24, 2017

DALLAS (AP) - Adam Cracknell gave the Dallas Stars three goals from an unexpected source, while San Jose had more trouble getting goals from anybody.

Cracknell’s first hat trick in seven NHL seasons helped Dallas hand the Sharks their fifth straight loss, 6-1 on Friday night.

Cracknell opened the scoring in the first period, capped a three-goal flurry in the second and beat goalie Aaron Dell on a short-handed breakaway in the third for his career-high 10th goal of the season.

After the second goal, he said, “I was trying not to think about it. It’s like trying to pitch a perfect game, and everybody keeps bringing it up. They know I don’t score that many goals. I guess to get that reaction from my teammates meant the most.”

The Sharks fell into a first-place tie with Anaheim in the Pacific Division. San Jose has been outscored 16-5 during the stretch.

“Sometimes they’re going in, sometimes they’re not,” San Jose captain Joe Pavelski said. “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 been all of us.”

Dallas is clinging to the last hope of a playoff berth. The Stars have not had a regulation loss in the last three games, only their fourth streak that long this season. Two losses in the last eight games would keep them out of the postseason.

“I think it’s important that we show our fans that we still care, no matter where we are in the standings,” Cracknell said.

The Stars hadn’t scored six goals since Jan. 31. San Jose has allowed six only three times this season.

“Just one of those games,” Sharks 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.”

The first bad sign was Cracknell’s first goal, at 8:30 of the first period.

Cracknell carried the puck from the left corner almost to the goal. He lost control of the puck, but it went off the skate of San Jose’s Micheal Haley and between Dell’s legs.

“I thought I kind of knocked it and was hoping that it was going to go free and it didn’t,” Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon said.

DeBoer expressed concern about San Jose’s recent play.

“We got to figure a way to get out of this, but we worked through 70 games to put ourselves in a good spot,” he said. “With eight to go, we just got to get it back on track.”

Brett Ritchie, Jamie Benn and John Klingberg also scored for the Stars. They built a 4-0 lead through 7:08 of the second period, when Cracknell took a centering pass from Jason Spezza in the slot to beat Dell.

Joe Thornton scored for San Jose on the power play in the second period. Dell had 23 saves.

Dallas’ Kari Lehtonen made 20 saves four nights after shutting out San Jose.

Spezza had three assists for the Stars. Curtis McKenzie and Remi Elie had two apiece.

NOTES: Cracknell has had only one other game with multiple goals, on April 4, 2013, at Chicago for the St. Louis Blues. Playing in his 195th career game, he had his first two-point game since he had a goal and an assist in his first game this season on Oct. 13 against Anaheim. … Spezza had missed the previous two games because of back spasms but played Friday. RW Jiri Hudler and D Dan Hamhuis were out with lower-body injuries. … Tyler Seguin had an assist in his 500th game, the most of any player drafted in 2010. … Dell brought a 1.85 goals against average and .937 save percentage into the game. … Sharks D Justin Braun blocked four shots, giving him a career-high 148 blocks this season. … San Jose D Marc-Edouard Vlasic left the game in the second period with an undisclosed injury.


Sharks: Finish a four-game trip on Saturday at Nashville.

Stars: Begin their final road trip (five games in nine days) at New Jersey on Sunday.

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