DALLAS – The Edmonton Oilers lost more than just games during their season-long seven-game road trip.
Jordan Eberle, Edmonton’s leading scorer with 17 goals and 43 points, sustained a knee injury in the opening period of a 4-1 loss in Dallas on Saturday and did not return.
He’s the second top-line player on the team to go down with injury during the road trip, which Edmonton finished 1-6-0. Rookie of the year candidate and top overall pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins suffered a shoulder injury in Tuesday’s 4-3 loss to the Buffalo Sabres.
Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins are Edmonton’s top offensive threats alongside Taylor Hall, who scored the Oilers’ lone goal against the Stars on Saturday.
Nugent-Hopkins is expected to miss 3-4 weeks, but there’s still no word on how much time Eberle could miss.
“I don’t know the extent of the injury or how long he’s going to be out,” said Oilers coach Tom Renney.
Hall, meanwhile, had five goals during the road trip.
“We didn’t have the results we wanted,” said Hall of the road swing. “But we had a lot of good efforts. We need to stay together as a group and turn it around.”
Mike Ribeiro and Jamie Benn both scored twice for Dallas.
Ribeiro took a puck to the face during Thursday night’s 4-1 win at Nashville, costing him a tooth and leaving him with a bloody mouth.
The shifty centre returned to the ice in that game after getting treatment in the locker room and had a two-goal night.
And he remained in the lineup two days later, notching an insurance goal and adding an empty-netter against Edmonton.
“This morning my mouth was really sore,” Ribeiro said. “I didn’t take anything to help it. I don’t like to take (pain-killers), I just wanted to come play and once you skate and once you’re out there, you don’t feel the pain. I knew that and I’m fine. It’s sore a little bit, but that’s part of the game.”
Adding to his general soreness was a hit to the knee Ribeiro sustained early in the second period against the Oilers. Again, Ribeiro had the injury treated, and was soon back on the ice.
Coach Glen Gulutzan praised Ribeiro for “gutting it out for us.”
Ribeiro opened the game wearing a metal cage attached to his helmet to protect his mouth. But it restricted his vision, and he soon ditched the wire cage.
“I’d rather be hurt again in my mouth than be uncomfortable out there, and once I took it off I was more comfortable and able to see the play,” Ribeiro said.
Ribeiro gave the Stars a cushion when he skated behind the Edmonton net and flipped a shot toward the goal that banked off Edmonton’s Josh Green and past goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin at 13:39 of the final period, stretching the advantage to 3-1.
Ribeiro’s empty-netter with 1:14 remaining for his 10th goal of the season clinched the win for the Stars, 3-1-0 in their last four.
Rookie Richard Bachman made 25 saves and Loui Eriksson contributed three assists for the Stars.
Bachman was a late fill-in for Kari Lehtonen, who was set to start but wasn’t available because he was feeling ill prior to the game.
Benn notched the game’s biggest goal, his 13th of the season.
With the teams even at 1, Benn went hard to the net, collected the rebound of Adam Burish’s shot, and lifted the puck over Khabibulin at 7:03 of the final period.
The Stars haven’t lost at home to the Oilers in regulation since Dec. 8, 2006, going 10-0-1 during that span.
The 38-year-old Khabibulin stopped 30 shots for the Oilers.
Hall was credited with the only goal of the first period at 17:19 when his shot from the low slot hit Dallas defenceman Alex Goligoski, flipping into the air, over Bachman and past the goal line.
Benn pulled Dallas even at 1, skating up the slot and converting Trevor Daley’s centring pass at 14:39 of the second period.
Stars forward Steve Ott got the Oilers’ attention in the second period with a high check on Edmonton’s Anton Lander. Green came to his teammate’s defence, fighting Ott, who also received a minor for illegal hit to the head.
“I thought he should be getting a rest (suspension),” Renney said of Ott.
NOTES: Dallas has three or more goals in six of its last seven games. The Stars are 18-5-1 this season when scoring three or more. … Forward Tomas Vincour (knee), D Philip Larsen (concussion-like symptoms) and D Sheldon Souray (sprained ankle) are out for Dallas. Souray is skating and is expected to return next week. … The Oilers are without C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (shoulder), D Cam Barker (ankle), D Taylor Fedun (leg) and D Alex Plante (concussion). … The Stars haven’t allowed a power-play goal in five games, killing 10 man-advantage situations over that span.
– with files from The Associated Press.