The league-leading Hurricanes were too much for the Blackhawks on Monday night, opening a 4-0 lead in the opening half and ultimately taking a 5-2 win in the first of three straight meetings with Carolina this week.
"I think we had the right approach tonight," Colliton said of the loss against an 'excellent' Hurricanes team. "We tried to do the right thing. We tried to do the little details of the game that help us. Certainly we're not satisfied. We want to be better to win the hockey game. There's lots we can improve on and keep working and do everything we can to improve. I think we played hard and hopefully we can build on it tomorrow."
With the loss, Chicago was officially eliminated from playoff contention this season.
Video: CHI Recap: Kubalik earns 2 assist in a 5-2 defeat
Here are three takeaways from the game:
Malcolm Subban drew the start for the Blackhawks in Carolina, his sixth appearance in the last eight outings and fourth start in that stretch. After allowing four goals on 18 shots in the opening half of the game, Colliton turned to Collin Delia who was backing up for the night, giving the netminder his first NHL appearance since Jan. 17 in Florida.
It was part of the plan down the stretch, Colliton said ahead of the game, to get Delia back into action, but it came sooner than expected as Chicago fell behind quickly in Carolina. Delia stepped in and went a perfect 19-for-19 over the final 30 minutes of play, including several prime scoring chances for the home side.
"It's good to see him come in and have some success like that," DeBrincat said. "He had some good saves and probably kept us in the game a lot longer than we should've been."
"He was good. Our plan was to get him in soon here. Wasn't planning on it being tonight, but he did an excellent job for us," Colliton said. "He's worked hard and probably helped that he know he was going to play soon. He's been preparing and he did an excellent job with the opportunity."
Delia played four AHL games on a conditioning stint with the Rockford IceHogs from Feb. 27-March 7, but otherwise hasn't seen game action since the opening week of the NHL season.
"Just trying to stay sharp, keep my habits pretty good and just be ready," Delia said of his mindset with such a long time between games. "Especially in an opportunity like this, backing up, you have to be ready regardless of the situation. Just trying to keep that my M.O."
Video: Delia on returning to action
There is no doubt that Ian Mitchell is a big part of the Blackhawks' blue line of the future, but it's undoubtedly been a frustrating last two months for the rookie defenseman.
After appearing in the first 26 games of the season, Mitchell was scratched for a pair of games in early March, returned for six straight in a reduced-minutes role and then spent 14 of the next 17 games either in the AHL or scratched.
"I think more it was just mental," Mitchell said of his rookie wall. "Every day, another game, another game another game. I didn't feel my body was wearing down, just the grind of the season takes its toll."
"He's definitely shown a lot throughout the year. It's [a matter of] finding consistency," Colliton said of the rookie's progression pregame.
Mitchell broke back into the group on Saturday against Florida and stayed in the lineup Monday night, scoring an emphatic goal in the second period for just his third of the season.
Video: CHI@CAR: Mitchell fires a one-timer into the twine
"He got better as the game went on," Colliton said of his game overall. "I thought he made a lot more confident plays, looked like he was being more assertive in D-zone and hopefully he can use that momentum, build a little confidence and continue to improve."
Video: DeBrincat on loss to CAR
With Monday's loss, the Blackhawks were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.
Chicago has 50 points thus far with four games to play in their schedule. Nashville's overtime win in Columbus to reach the 60-point plateau put the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central Division out of reach for the Blackhawks, now with a maximum point potential of 58.
"Not the spot we want to be in," DeBrincat said. "We had a good stretch there in the middle of the season, but you gotta to play the whole season. It's tough."
With four games remaining over the next seven days -- two against the league-leading Canes and two against the playoff hopeful Dallas Stars -- the focus now turns to competitive pride in each contest and the individual development that can be gleaned from the final week of action.
"These next four games, we're still building for something in the future, still got to play hard," DeBrincat added. "We're still trying to win games, get points and become a better team."
"It doesn't really change the message as far as what we're trying to do," Colliton added. "We've got to get better. We've got to keep improving. We've got a bunch of first-. second-year guys, even third-, fourth-year guys that we're trying to lean, as a group, how we need to play as a group to have success and compete against teams at the top like Carolina. We've got to use these games as an opportunity to continue to get better."