Head coach Craig Hartsburg was attempting to get the Ottawa Senators out of their funk Thursday, so he sat defenceman Christoph Schubert and inserted call-ups Ilya Zubov and Cody Bass into the lineup.
They held their own, with each posting an even rating in a combined 15-plus minutes of ice time. But it was the same old story: a loss, this time 3-2 in a shootout to the Montreal Canadiens.
So, what does Hartsburg do to help change his team's fortunes with former Senators blue-liner Wade Redden and the New York Rangers paying a visit Saturday (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 3 p.m. ET)?
More benchings? No game-day skate? How about rotating the goalies and giving Martin Gerber the nod over Alex Auld? Or, maybe more players should grow facial hair.
Hey, it worked for Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman-forward Ian White, who has recorded one point in seven of his last eight games while sporting a moustache after being a healthy scratch for several contests earlier in the season.
"It's just for fun," Senators defenceman Luke Richardson told reporters Thursday of the new look. "You can't be thinking 24-7 about your struggles. It's a team togetherness sort of thing."
It seems the idea originated with right-winger Dany Heatley, while forwards Antoine Vermette and Nick Foligno also came on board and are now sporting moustaches.
"Maybe this is something we can rally around," said Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson, whose team sat 14th in the 15-team Eastern Conference with a 6-9-4 record entering play Friday.
'Can't feel sorry for ourselves'
The Senators, it seems, are willing to do anything to return to the winning side of the scoreboard. For the record, their last victory came Nov. 6 in a 4-1 decision over the Philadelphia Flyers.
Ottawa nearly upended Montreal on Thursday, but Canadiens rearguard Andrei Markov forced overtime on a slapshot that beat Auld with less than five minutes left in regulation. Alex Tanguay then notched the shootout winner.
"We had our chances to win," Alfredsson commented. "The effort is there. We can't feel sorry for ourselves. We need to score goals … find guys to put the puck in on a consistent basis."
The Philadelphia win was the only time in nine games this month the Senators have scored more than two goals. In 19 outings this season, they have surpassed the two-goal mark just six times.
Thursday's game marked Ottawa's second shootout defeat this week, the other coming Monday to the hometown Rangers (14-6-2).
Perhaps another chance to beat the Eastern Conference leaders, and an opportunity to feed off the energy created by Redden's return to Ottawa for the first time since leaving as a free agent, will be enough motivation to help the Senators end their slide.
Redden, who spent 11 seasons in Ottawa, was even on plus-minus with one shot in 18 minutes, 17 seconds of ice time on Monday against his old club.
His 101 goals and 309 assists are franchise records for a defenceman. With New York, Redden has collected two goals and nine points in 22 games.
Redden and company are coming off a 6-3 setback to Vancouver on Wednesday, the Rangers' first loss in four games.
New York looked flat from the opening faceoff and the visiting Canucks took advantage, jumping out to a 4-0 lead by the three-minute mark of the second period.
Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who leads the NHL this season in wins with 12, was pulled after surrendering Vancouver's fifth goal on 17 shots. Backup Stephen Valiquette stopped all 15 shots directed his way.