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Zub impressing Sens teammates

by Matt Tidcombe @matttidcombe

On Monday, Artem Zub impressed the hockey world with his poise as he scored his first career NHL goal on a breakaway.

But in reality, Zub has been impressing those around him for a while now.

"He's a very good hockey player," Erik Gudbranson said. "He's very cerebral. He keeps himself in good positions. He's strong on his feet. He's a good passer and good puck mover.

"I was on the ice when I saw him come out of the box and Tierney made that play to him and I actually said to myself 'this is a goal.' I was so happy for him to get that first one the way he did."

In fact, Gudbranson isn't the only one who wasn't surprised to see Zub bury that breakaway. When the Senators were in Edmonton recently, the Sens held a shootout after practice. Guess who won?

"He won the shootout!" Drake Batherson said post-game Monday. "I figured he had a good chance to score when he went in and he did his move he did in Edmonton and it was a beauty first goal. The boys were fired up for him."

The 25-year-old had been scratched the first eight games of the season. With Thomas Chabot unavailable Jan. 31 due to injury, Zub made his NHL debut in Edmonton, tallying an assist in the process. He's played in eight of the team's nine games since, playing primarily alongside Mike Reilly, with a Covid-19 related issue the only cause for him missing the Senators' Feb. 11 game in Winnipeg.

"I think he's hard to play against," Sens head coach D.J. Smith said. "His biggest strength is how he defends and how hard he competes."

Zub has a goal and two assists this season while averaging 15:26 a night after spending the previous six seasons in the KHL where he played 256 games. He won the Gagarin Cup in 2017 with SKA St. Petersburg alongside current teammate Evgenii Dadonov. Ilya Kovalchuk and Pavel Datsyuk were also part of that team.

The Khabarovsk native also has an Olympic gold medal to his name (2018) and an IIHF World Championship bronze medal (2019).

"It's obviously a big adjustment for him coming all the way from Russia but he's adapted really quick," Thomas Chabot said. "He's a good puck mover. He's very strong. He wins his puck battles and he's really hard to play against.

"Since he's been in the lineup, he's been playing some good minutes for us. He's been very solid and we're happy to have him."

The Sens sure were happy to have him Monday night as his goal early in the third was part of the catalyst for the Senators' improbable overtime win Monday against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"I'm incredibly happy," Zub said post-game.

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