NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Having Brent Seabrook in the lineup wouldn’t have saved the Blackhawks on Tuesday.
But Seabrook’s removal certainly didn’t seem to help, either.
The Hawks lost 3-0 to the Predators — Nick Bonino had a hat trick — but the score wasn’t even that indicative of the game.
‘‘We needed to push back; we needed to have some sustained zone time; we needed to make a few plays,” coach Jeremy Colliton said. “And, typically, we were late, they got momentum from it, they hemmed us in, and it just snowballed.”
They were pummeled by a faster and harder-working Predators team, surrendering numbers straight out of a video game: 87-41 in shots, 42-14 in scoring chances and 51-20 in shots on goal.
It was only the third time in franchise history that the Hawks have allowed 50 or more shots on goal and had 20 or fewer, and the first since 1997.
“They were toying with us today,” goalie Robin Lehner said.
The Hawks have been shut out in two of their last three games and have scored one goal or fewer in four of their last five.
“We’re fighting to find our confidence as a team,” captain Jonathan Toews said.
Certainly, the positive feelings and shifting momentum from their 5-1 victory Sunday against the Kings are gone now.
Facing an upper-echelon team in their own division, rather than a bottom-feeding Pacific team, the Hawks were clearly outclassed.
“We were nowhere near where we need to be to have success,” Colliton said.
Other than Lehner, even the few Hawks who have been solid this season were listless.
Ryan Carpenter had a 32 percent Corsi rating, Duncan Keith was even worse at 24 percent and Dominik Kubalik and Brandon Saad mustered one shot between them.
“The moments this year when we’ve been good, we’ve showed that desperation,” Colliton said. “The players that have driven that for us this year, a lot of them were not very good tonight.”
The Hawks will finish October with a 3-6-2 record, and despite a few undeserved losses earlier in the month, they’ve earned every bit of that ugly record.
“There’s no doubt we have a ton of ability and a ton of experience in this room . . . so it’s frustrating that we’ve gone through this,” Toews said. “We’ve got to find ways to get our consistency and start building our confidence as a team.”
Lehner running with job
Lehner made his fourth start in five games, and despite the loss, he was clearly the Hawks’ best player. His 48 saves tied for the second-most in his career.
“He was the only reason this game was anywhere near reasonable for them,” Predators goalie Pekka Rinne said.
“Despite the fact that we were hanging him out to dry every single shift, he made some huge stops,” Toews said. “It could’ve been a 10-0 game if it wasn’t for him.”
The hope all along was the Hawks’ goaltending battle would become a true meritocracy, and it seems to be trending that way. Lehner entered Tuesday third in the NHL with a .935 save percentage.
Colliton remains unwilling to declare him the outright No. 1 goalie, but he has been effusive with praise.