On the verge of matching their longest losing streak in franchise history, the Anaheim Ducks are searching for answers.
Coach Randy Carlyle hopes a tweak to his star-studded top line does the trick.
Anaheim tries to avoid an eighth consecutive defeat as it hosts the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night.
The Pacific-Division worst Ducks (6-13-4), who suffered eight-game losing streaks Oct. 12-30, 1996, and Nov. 3-20, 2005, have dropped 16 of 18 - including a current 0-6-1 skid during which they've been outscored 28-17.
Despite taking a 1-0 lead on defenseman Francois Beauchemin's power-play goal, Anaheim saw its struggles continue Sunday, falling 5-2 to Toronto. Forward Corey Perry scored for the third time in as many games but Jonas Hiller turned away just 23 of 27 shots to drop to 1-7-3 with a 3.72 goals-against average over his last 12 games.
"There's been a lot of talking, a lot of meetings, but really no answers," said right wing Teemu Selanne, whose 22 points lead the team. "It seems to me that nothing works. It's just unbelievable. I don't know what to say. Night after night, we make the same mistakes. We're trying to stay positive. I think everybody hates this situation. There's been enough talking. There's no mental toughness right now."
In an attempt to spark his team, Carlyle moved three-time 30-goal scorer Bobby Ryan off the top line to play with Niklas Hagman and Ben Maxwell during Monday's practice. Left wing Matt Beleskey, who cleared waivers last week, replaced Ryan, joining two-time All-Star Ryan Getzlaf and Perry - last season's Hart Trophy winner - on the top line.
"We've always been trying to formulate a line that can play some minutes in our third slotting, and putting Bobby there should give them an opportunity to be a little more offensive," Carlyle told the Ducks' official website.
"Does it take away from Getzlaf, Perry and Bobby Ryan? Yeah, when you break that up it does. But we can always go back to it, and it gives us an option to move Beleskey up and spread out a little more skill."
The Ducks, allowing 4.22 goals per game in losing eight of nine at home, won't have to worry about containing Montreal's Max Pacioretty. The potent left winger, who leads the team with 10 goals, will serve the first of his three-game suspension for a hit to the head of a Pittsburgh defenseman during Saturday's 4-3 overtime loss.
While Pacioretty won't be available, defenseman Andrei Markov could make his much-anticipated return to the ice. Markov, second in franchise history with 194 power-play points, has been out since tearing both his right ACL and MCL over a year ago.
"Everybody knows the impact that he can have on a power play and on a team, so it's always good to see him out there going through the motions and working on the power play - it's a great boost for our team," defenseman P.K. Subban said.
Markov's possible return couldn't come at a better time given the Canadiens' power-play struggles. Montreal (10-10-4) ranks in the bottom third of the league with just 12 power-play goals and has failed to convert on 16 chances with the man advantage during a 1-2-1 stretch.
Carey Price, who stopped 38 of the season-high 42 shots he faced Saturday, knows the team needs to pick up the pace.
"We're out of a playoff position, that's not where I like to be at," said Price, 0-2-1 with a 3.70 GAA lifetime against the Ducks. "We want to be within those eight teams, everybody wants to be there."
Anaheim has gone 4-0-1 over the last five meetings in this series.