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Notes: Wings looking to grind out win against Kings

Several players battling illness as team plays second game in back-to-back set

by Dana Wakiji @Dwakiji / DetroitRedWings.com

DETROIT -- The Red Wings are going to have to rely on the good vibes they have created in winning two straight and on their own mental toughness as they take on the Los Angeles Kings tonight.

Several of the Wings have been battling illness for a few days and they're playing the second half of a back-to-back.

"We just gotta, I guess, come and grind it out," Wings coach Jeff Blashill said before the game. "The league doesn't care if you're ill or if you're hurt or if you're tired or anything like that. The league just cares about performance on the ice and wins and losses. Certainly L.A.'s not going to care if any of us don't feel good or didn't get quite enough sleep, we gotta go out and we gotta find a way to grind it out and play great hockey. We don't even think about that.

"There's certainly things that individuals can do. Some of the guys that are a little bit sicker maybe have seen doctors and just dealt with IVs and stuff like that, make sure we get the fluids back in. We're doing all the things precautionary-wise that we can but once you get here, you gotta put the mental frame of mind where you're not worried about anything but trying to be your very best."

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: "We both played last night but it does help we feel real comfortable rolling all four lines offensively and defensively." 🗣 Coach Blashill | #LAKvsDET pic.twitter.com/3qw2UJZ3Jm

The Wings have overcome being sick in a 5-2 home victory Thursday night over the Winnipeg Jets and in a 2-1 road win in Montreal Saturday night.

Of course, the Wings have to give goaltender Jonathan Bernier a great deal of credit for shutting down the Canadiens as he made 42 saves.

"Obviously we gave up lots of shots, we gave up a good number of real chances and he made real saves on those chances and I thought in the end was the difference in the game," Blashill said. "I think we did a pretty good job within a lot of those chances of contesting shots and keeping pucks to the outside. There were a lot of chances that we gave up that were around the perimeter of that scoring square so that's a positive. But when we didn't and we had a breakdown, he was excellent."

Although Blashill did not confirm it, it is expected that Eric Comrie will start against the Kings.

Comrie, 24, has faced Los Angeles once in his career, earning the win with a .97 goals-against average and .941 save percentage.

The Kings (13-18-3) dropped a 5-4 decision in a shootout Saturday night in Pittsburgh.

"They're well-coached, they've got a couple of two of the better players at their positions in (Anze) Kopitar and (Drew) Doughty, and (Jeff) Carter has been, too," Blashill said. "They're going through their growing pains, similar to what we've gone through. In the end, we're more worried about ourselves and playing great hockey."

Tweet from @DetroitRedWings: .@NicklasLidstrom is in the house signing his new book tonight (and Tuesday 12/17) until 6:45 outside the District Market! Stop by and say hi! #LGRW pic.twitter.com/fevpCEsqAh

REINFORCEMENTS HELP: Although the Wings might be a bit tired, they did get a boost from having forwards Anthony Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou return to the lineup in Montreal.

"Probably a little bit two different animals in the sense that Andreas was only out for two games," Blashill said. "But when you couple that, coming back with Anthony, it's certainly a big boost. I think from a confidence standpoint, from a shot in the arm, from a belief standpoint, you get two guys back that our guys know that are real dynamic offensive players and when they're on their games can be some of the best in the league. Certainly there's definitely a shot of, I don't want to say adrenaline, but a shot of confidence and that's important."

Although he missed eight games, Mantha remains second on the team in scoring with 23 points (12-11-23) to Tyler Bertuzzi's 26 (11-15-26).

In addition to the offensive boost, having those two back will allow the Wings to be a little more even on their lines.

"It'll be important tonight on a back-to-back, to be able to play all four lines and play them pretty regularly and not worry about match-ups," Blashill said. "Where you get in tough spots is when you gotta worry so much about match-ups that you get out of your own groove a little bit and sometimes guys end up sitting too long and sometimes guys get overplayed. We're both in the same situation, we both played last night but it does help that we feel real comfortable (about) four lines offensively and defensively."

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