TORONTO - Mired in their longest losing skid of the season, the Maple Leafs are feeling the urgency to get back on track sooner rather than later.
Toronto remained in ninth place in the Eastern Conference after falling 3-2 to the rival Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night.
And while three straight regulation-time losses isn?t a reason to push the panic button, the defeats have shared the disturbing trend of coming against Eastern opponents.
?We?ve had a couple of tough losses,? said Leafs centre Matthew Lombardi, who scored against Ottawa for his first goal since Oct. 27. ?It?s definitely frustrating. We just need to get ready for the next game.?
The urgency becomes even more apparent when the teams that Toronto (22-18-5) is chasing in the standings continue to win, as did five of the six clubs directly ahead of the Leafs in the East on Tuesday night.
A lack of scoring has been one reason for Toronto?s sudden losing swing. The Leafs have managed just four goals in losses to Buffalo, the New York Rangers and the Senators, who rallied back from a 2-0 first-period deficit.
Offensively, there were some positives for Toronto on Tuesday, as Joffrey Lupul notched his 20th goal of the season against Ottawa. With linemate Phil Kessel providing the assist, the high-octane teammates are still among the NHL???s top-10 scorers.
Toronto outshot 39-21 overall, hit a couple of posts and came close on several other occasions, but couldn't solve Ottawa netminder Craig Anderson.
Toronto???s next three games are all at home ??? and all against struggling teams ??? as the Minnesota Wild visit on Thursday followed by the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday and the New York Islanders on Monday.
???We know we???ve got a good team,??? Lombardi said, ???we???ve just got to stick with it.???