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Notes: Frans Nielsen goes on, Steve Ott comes off IR

Niklas Kronwall remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury but unlikely to play next two games

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji /

DETROIT - Just when the Red Wings appeared to be paring down their injury list, they have to put someone else on.

On Monday, the Wings placed forward Frans Nielsen on short-term injured reserve with a shoulder injury and activated Steve Ott from IR.

"I'm feeling completely healed up, so I'm ready to rock and roll if need be," Ott said after Monday's practice at Joe Louis Arena. "Obviously today where I practiced wasn't in the same position. We came off two big wins so you bide your time and when it's time to get back in the lineup that's when I'll be ready to go."

Nielsen was injured in the second period Friday against his former team, the New York Islanders.

Defenseman Brendan Smith returned Saturday in Nashville after missing 13 games with a right knee sprain but Niklas Kronwall could not play because of a lower-body injury.

"It was good," Smith said. "There are a couple things I've got to get back to doing game time, making quicker plays and stuff, but I thought all in all it was a good game and did some good things and I'm just going to try and build off it."

Wings coach Jeff Blashill said it would be at least a couple more games without Kronwall, calling him day-to-day.

Tomas Jurco played in his 14th game Saturday, recording two shots in 9:54.

Jurco is still looking for his first point of the season.

Ott originally injured his shoulder on Jan. 1 in the Centennial Classic in Toronto and has missed the last 10 games because of it.

Blashill didn't say that Ott would definitely return to the lineup. Ott and Jurco rotated in on the fourth line with Luke Glendening and Justin Abdelkader.

"Steve Ott does a few things," Blashill said. "One, he gives you energy, momentum through his physicality and his hard forecheck. He can win face-offs, he's accountable defensively and he's a good penalty killer."

BUILDING OFF WEEKEND: The Wings are looking to build off progress they made in two regulation wins Friday at home against the Islanders and Saturday in Nashville.

"I thought our compete level in both games was really good," Blashill said. "I thought on Saturday, in a game were we kind of lost our legs as the game went along, I still thought we played very smart even though we gave up lots of shots and certainly come chances late in the third when they were pushing. But up until then I thought we kept them to the outside, we did a good job in the neutral zone keeping them to the outside, we did a pretty good job in the D-zone of not giving a whole bunch. I thought we managed our game fairly well. We're still working on managing our game with the puck better."

Mrazek made 42 saves in the 1-0 shutout in Nashville, his first shutout of the season and first since Feb. 8, 2016 against the Florida Panthers.

"It was unbelievable," Smith said. "He deserved that. He put on a clinic. We need that going forward. When your goalie is your best player you win a lot of games that way. He deserved that game. It was fun to watch and fun to play in front of him. The biggest thing we've been talking about it we need a goalie to get hot and we have to play better, get better starts, all the basic things you guys all write about. I think that's kind of our mentality going forward."

Of course, Tuesday's opponent, the Columbus Blue Jackets, is second in the Eastern Conference and second in the Metropolitan Division with 71 points in 51 games.

"This is a real tough week starting with tomorrow to be honest with you," Ott said. "We're going to be against some really good teams but we just beat a really good team in Nashville. Hopefully you carry on. Petr played a heck of a game the last game. When you have that, you try to grab any kind of momentum and carry it into your next game, and keep snowballing game to game."

After hosting the Blue Jackets, the Wings play at Washington Thursday, at Columbus Saturday and at Minnesota Sunday.

The Capitals are first in the East and in the Metropolitan Division with 78 points in 53 games.

The Wild are first in the West and in the Central Division with 73 points in 51 games.

"It's going to be tough games from here on out," Smith said. "We have some good team we're going to play against. Our biggest thing is to play how we've been doing, play hard, get pucks deep, get pucks to the net and stuff like that. That's going to try and be our mentality going forward. I know we haven't won more than (three) in a row since the start. We're going to try and change that if we're going to be a playoff team."

The two wins moved the Wings into sixth place in the Atlantic Division with 53 points in 52 games.

Although some have already counted the Wings out, the Wings themselves still believe.

"To be honest with you, when you have almost 30 games to go, the standings are going to switch so much until probably the last game of the year, like it has every single year," Ott said. "We know the magical number probably to get into the playoffs. It's usually around that mid-90s points but right now you need to continue to have that cliche, one game at a time.

"You have to continue to bank points. You get points, and all of a sudden you start creeping up in the standings and a month later, you're two points out or four points out. The last couple of weeks it comes down to everything. Our mentality is playoffs, and I've seen it many times. Whoever just gets in the playoffs now has a legitimate chance. "

HOWARD ONE MORE AT GR: Goaltender Jimmy Howard will get another start with the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins.

Howard started Friday night against the Milwaukee Admirals and allowed five goals on 29 shots in a 5-4 defeat.

Howard has been out since Dec. 20 with a knee injury.

The Griffins play the Manitoba Moose on Wednesday.

BRADY AND BELICHICK: Tom Brady, who went to Michigan, proved his greatness once again in Super Bowl LI, coming back from a 25-point deficit to defeat the Atlanta Falcons in overtime.

Brady and coach Bill Belichick have now combined to win five Super Bowls together.

"It's incredibly impressive, similar to what was done here for a number of years through the '90s and into the 2000s where when you win at that high a level, certainly in a league set up for parity and you win that consistently that they've done, it's extremely impressive," Blashill said. "I think obviously there's been two big keys to that whole thing, one's been the coach and one's been the quarterback and those are two real important positions. My son was a big Patriots fan so I was happy for him."

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