Not much went right for the Blackhawks on Tuesday night as they opened a four-game road trip with a 3-0 defeat to the Predators at Bridgestone Arena.
Nick Bonino scored all three goals and Rocco Grimaldi had three assists for the Predators, who sent a whopping 51 shots on Blackhawks goaltender Robin Lehner.
"We try to keep positive but we know we have to step it up," Lehner said. "(Tuesday night) they just had us in most of the categories you can think of. It's a hard one to analyze. They're a good team. Every single guy on their team played desperate and hard and really out-worked us. We have to figure out a way to figure this out."
The Blackhawks struggled almost to a man, but captain Jonathan Toews put the spotlight on himself after the team's fifth loss in the last six games.
"As individuals, starting with myself, my game hasn't been there," Toews said. "You can say all you want to your teammates and try to rally guys in the locker room and be positive but it starts with your individual game and your effort and your energy and your consistency and doing the little things right. My game hasn't quite been there and I think when your top guys and guys who have been in this locker room for a while and (been) your best players, everyone follows suit and myself and those others can definitely take it upon ourselves to start leading the way in having that consistent effort every single night.
"There's no doubt we have a ton of ability and a ton of experience in this room and a bunch of guys who are already really enjoying being around each other in the room," Toews continued. "It's frustrating that we've gone through this lately. We have to find ways to get our consistency and start building our confidence as a team."
If not for Lehner's performance, the final score could have been even uglier for the Blackhawks.
"It could have been a 10-0 game if it wasn't for him," Toews said.
Lehner stood tall despite the onslaught by the Predators, who also had 24 shots blocked by the Blackhawks en route to the net.
"We had a fantastic goaltending performance that we wasted," Colliton said. "(Lehner) kept us in it. It was 1-0 for a long time and it was 2-0 for a long time and at any point if we just have any sort of push then we could climb our way back into the game but we just couldn't find it."
Lehner made his second consecutive start in goal and fourth in the last five games for the Blackhawks. So is Colliton prepared to name him the No. 1 goaltender with Corey Crawford officially the backup?
"I don't think you're going to get that out of me all year," Colliton said of naming a No. 1 netminder.
With the loss, Lehner dropped to 2-2-2 on the season while Crawford is 1-4-0.
"They're both going to get their chance to play," Colliton said. "We know that 'Crow' is going to play at a really high level, too."
Kirby Dach, the No. 3 overall selection in the 2019 NHL Draft, played his sixth game for the Blackhawks.
In addition to his long reach, scoring touch and hockey acumen, the 18-year-old continued to flash surprising speed for a player who stands 6-feet-4.
"A huge thing in my game is my speed coming through the neutral zone, especially coming down low and swinging and picking up pucks and helping the D-men down there and getting up ice" Dach said. "As a centerman, you have to be able to be able to skate so I've taken great pride in my skating.
"As a bigger guy, it kind of looks a little sluggish at times but I just find I take fewer strides than some other guys and at the end of the day it adds up to the same amount of speed," Dach added. "I kind of like having that deceptive speed-it can throw defenders off. I've always thought of myself as a deceptive skater, I just needed to kind of add a little bit more explosiveness to my stride and be a little bit quicker on my first three steps. That's something I've kind of work on over the years."
Against the Predators, Dach had one shot on goal in 12 minutes, 43 seconds of ice time. For the season, the center has one goal and one assist.
Colliton said Dach's speed has been a surprise.
"I don't know what the reports are, but I never heard he was a great skater and I think he is," Colliton said. "I think he is a great skater, especially in open ice. Once he gets wound up, he can catch guys, he can pass guys (and) he can close on guys. That's why I think he can be a great forechecker. He's got to get to full speed. When he does, I think it's pretty tough to handle for a defender."
Dach said each game he feels more and more comfortable on the ice.
"I don't feel like I'm behind or a second late on some things but at the same time, it's not easy," Dach said. "I just have to kind of keep playing my game and keep progressing the way I've been playing and try to focus on the little things to make myself better."