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Wednesday Night Hockey review: Leafs struggles continue

There were just three matches in the National Hockey League on Wednesday night, but those contests threw up plenty to digest.

It is often said that teams inside the playoff structure at American Thanksgiving can consider themselves in good shape for the season and, with every team having at least 11 games in the book, we are fully into the swing of the campaign.

Leafs shaky start continues

Toronto Maple Leafs fans have been put through the wringer in recent seasons but they would have gone into the new season in an optimistic mood.

They made it to the second round of the postseason for the first time since 2004 last season, and while their Stanley Cup hopes ended there, they have a strong squad and looked in better shape than most, if not all of their Atlantic Division rivals.

However, it has been a dreary start to the campaign for the Leafs, whose misery continued with a 6-3 defeat to bottom-of-the-division Ottawa on Wednesday.

William Nylander put the Leafs on top at Scotiabank Arena with a powerplay goal six minutes into the game, but that was cancelled out by the Senators' Dominik Kubalik within 90 seconds.

Claude Giroux then put Ottawa ahead a minute into the second period, and while Tyler Bertuzzi's third goal of the season put Toronto back on terms three minutes later, Jakob Chychrun's strike ensured the Sens went into the second break with the lead.

Nick Robertson levelled the scores with his first of the season eight minutes into the third, but then it fell apart for the Leafs.

Kubalik's intended pass was deflected into the Toronto net by defenseman Mark Giordano's skate on the powerplay and less than a minute later Tim Stutzle doubled the Ottawa lead.

A goaltending error saw Joseph Woll cough up the puck behind the net to a grateful Stutzle, who passed to a wide open Giroux claiming his second of the night. It was also Stutzle's fourth point of the game.

The Leafs have now gone six games without a regulation-time win, but while they are only fifth in the division, they are just two points back of second-placed Tampa Bay. Not that that will be much consolation to Leafs fans, who are losing patience with their team.

For Ottawa it was a welcome boost, as while they remain bottom of the Atlantic Division, they are by no means out of touch.

Golden Knights humbled by Kings

Later in the evening, Los Angeles Kings took their winning streak to four with a 4-1 victory over Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena.

Vegas made a blistering start to their Stanley Cup championship defense, going 11-0-1 through their first 12 games, but they have since dropped back-to-back contests.

Their points streak came to an end in Anaheim on Sunday night despite significantly outshooting the Ducks, and it was a similar story against LA. 

The Golden Knights put 38 shots on net to the Kings' 33, but special teams proved their undoing, as the Kings scored on two of their four powerplay opportunities.

The game, described by LA coach Todd McLellan as "a boxing match" was scoreless until 11 and a half minutes into the second period, when Adrian Kempe tucked in a rebound from Jordan Spence's blast from the point.

Later in the period Trevor Moore redirected another long-range effort from Spence on the powerplay to double the Kings' lead.

Early in the third, again on the man advantage, Pierre-Luc Dubois made the most of a funny bounce off the endboards to stretch LA's lead to 3-0.

William Karlsson spoiled Kings goaltender Cam Talbot's perfect night later in the period before Anze Kopitar registered his 400th career NHL goal with a long-range shot into the empty net in the closing seconds.

The Kings rounded off a perfect 4-0 road trip and host Pittsburgh on Thursday evening.

Depleted Panthers see off Caps

In the night's other clash, Florida outlasted the Capitals in Washington to record their second straight overtime win.

The Panthers are having to do without injured defensemen Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour as well as center Sam Bennett, but they have won five of their last seven games.

Florida trailed 3-2 going into the third period but Evan Rodrigues levelled the scores three-and-a-half minutes in and Sam Reinhart took just 15 seconds to pot the decider in the extra stanza. 

Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Aleksander Barkov were also on the scoresheet for the Panthers, while for the Caps, Anthony Mantha scored twice and Connor McMichael registered a shorthanded goal.

Washington are not expecting much from this season but have gone 4-1-1 in their last six.

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