Experimenting in times of trouble isn't anything new, and Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau went extra bold Saturday, starting the night by separating first-line standouts Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf.
Bet he won't try that again.
The Ducks reverted during the split to their defensive and energy lapses of the previous night, falling behind by four goals to the San Jose Sharks at SAP Pavilion.
Then, a later Perry-Getzlaf reunion stirred a frantic rally that fell just short and the Ducks lost, 6-4.
Perry scored twice after the switch-back and Getzlaf sent a backhand to the roof of the Sharks' net in the third period, but the Ducks were scoreless in five power-play chances and Long Beach's Matt Nieto iced it for the Sharks with a final-minute empty-net goal.
"He had to get a spark somehow," Perry said of the early separation from Getzlaf. "We haven't played the way we've wanted in the last few games. We fell behind the eight ball, but if we keep playing the way we did the second half of that game, there's going to be good things to come."
As they did in beating the host Ducks in a fight-marred Oct. 26 game that featured 165 penalty minutes, the Sharks (11-10-4) shrugged off a four-game losing skid, forward Logan Couture pacing the attack with two goals.
San Jose had won only two of eight previous home games. But for the seventh time in nine games, the Ducks (14-6-5) allowed three goals or more. The Sharks needed just 20 minutes to get that many against a defense of two rookies and five players age 24 or younger.
Couture, who missed Saturday's morning skate — Coach Todd McLellan said the forward wasn't "feeling good" — benefited from wild bounces off the skates of Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen and Getzlaf to score the first of his two first-period goals.
Anaheim answered less than two minutes later when forward Matt Beleskey deflected in a shot by defenseman Hampus Lindholm, Beleskey's 11th goal.
The Ducks, who hadn't enjoyed a true two-minute power play since Sunday, finally got one on a delay-of-game call, but quickly squandered the advantage with Lindholm losing a puck to Couture and the forward racing for a breakaway short-handed goal.
The cruel twist was worsened when Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg committed a high-sticking penalty that led to a 3-1 deficit when San Jose forward Joe Pavelski scored with 14 seconds remaining in the first.
Pavelski was a key figure in the brawl-filled first meeting, in which Ducks defenseman Ben Lovejoy fractured a finger while punching Pavelski in the head. Lovejoy remains sidelined.
Boudreau sought to address the flaws the Ducks showed in Friday's 4-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.
In addition to the hurried debut of Friday acquisition Eric Brewer, a 35-year-old defenseman traded from Tampa Bay, Boudreau put Patrick Maroon and Kyle Palmieri with Getzlaf and goals leader Perry with second-line center Ryan Kesler.
After San Jose's Tomas Hertl beat Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen for a 5-1 lead 6:09 into the second, Boudreau yanked Andersen — who allowed five goals in 19 shots — and put Getzlaf and Perry back together, watching Getzlaf feed Perry on a goal late in the second.
The pair again struck 29 seconds into the third, when Perry deflected in a Getzlaf shot for his 14th goal.