WARREN’S PIECE: Zub is back, Giroux dives to success, Lucchini closes in and Kelly leaves a mark

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Artem Zub started December by taking a few jaw bumps.

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He’ll end the month by finally returning to the Ottawa Senators roster on Friday against the Detroit Red Wings, bolstering a team that has managed to stay out of the water without his solid defensive presence.

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Zub, who will wear a full visor and face shield to protect the jaw that was shattered when he was hit by the puck in a Dec. 2 game against the New York Rangers, is expected to play alongside Thomas Chabot in the best duo of the club.

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It will be his first game since signing a four-year, $18.4 million contract extension.

Limited to just 14 games this season due to a jaw injury and an earlier throbbing shoulder, his return will help coach DJ Smith put all of his defenders in more suitable places.

Rookie Jacob Bernard-Docker, who made his own comeback from an ankle injury in Thursday’s 4-3 overtime win over the Washington Capitals, skated on a duet with Nick Holden in Tuesday’s practice afternoon at Little Caesar’s Arena in Detroit.

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With Zub’s return, Dillon Heatherington was reassigned to Belleville of the American Hockey League.

“He brings a lot,” fellow defenseman Travis Hamonic told reporters in Detroit. “He has a huge shot, he is very present, he is physical, he skates well and he moves the puck very well. He plays a lot of minutes for us, against a lot of very good opponents.

THE DIVE HEARD IN THE LEAGUE: Claude Giroux minimized the effort on Friday, but he was responsible for Tim Stutzle’s huge goal with just 15 seconds left in the second period.

At the time, the Senators were trailing 3-1 and Giroux extended, fully extended, to intercept Trevor van Riemsdyk’s breakout pass inside the Capitals’ blue line. Giroux got up quickly and sent a pass into the slot to wide open Stutzle, who buried the puck past Capitals goaltender Darcy Kuemper.

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« It just happened, I didn’t really think about it, » said Giroux, who also set up Alex DeBrincat’s game-winning game in overtime. “I just wanted to get the puck and that was the only way to get it, so I kind of dived for it. It went pretty well.

The comeback probably wouldn’t have happened without the play of Giroux, who is seeing signs of more maturity from the team as the season progresses.

« We just kept our foot on the accelerator, » he said. « Even though we were down 3-1, we felt we were the better team on the ice and we kept pushing. »

THANK YOU, PHILLY: Like many observers, yours truly thought the Capitals were in good shape when Evgeny Kuznetsov put Washington ahead 3-1 with 4:04 left in the second period. The Senators pressed intensely for several minutes before Kuznetsov used Alex Ovechkin as a decoy on an odd-man break and flicked the puck past Senators goaltender Cam Talbot. Hence my tweet: “Kuznetsov. Back Breaker. 3-1 capitals. Early Friday morning came the response from Chris Phillips, who holds the Senators’ all-time record for games played (1,179) and is currently the club’s vice president of business operations. It was simple and precise. « Nope ».

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The comeback marked the first time in 14 tries this season that the Senators rallied to win as they trailed after two periods.

DIG DEEP: With forwards Josh Norris, Mathieu Joseph, Tyler Motte and former Belleville Senators recall Rourke Chartier all on the injured list, Jake Lucchini has more time than expected in his own minor recall. He played his best game yet against the Capitals, playing 10 even minutes and just missing his first NHL goal. « At the moment we don’t think about it too much, » said Lucchini, who has now played three major league games. “I didn’t really look at the net very well, I was skating towards our side and one of their defenders was on top of me. I’m not going to dwell on it. »

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In addition to receiving timely offense from DeBrincat, Stutzle, Drake Batherson, Brady Tkachuk and Giroux lately, Senators coach DJ Smith has been taking good advantage of his deep forwards lately, including Lucchini, Parker Kelly, Mark Kastelic and Dylan Gambrell. Kelly has found some other gear over the past two weeks and he was hard-hitting against the Capitals, shooting five on goal and six hits in 10:38 of ice time. « They don’t once slip, » Smith said of the lineage of Gambrell, Kelly and Lucchini. “They go 100 miles an hour every shift. They do not allow time and space. They create energy. They take penalties. They have done a very good job when they are there. And as long as they also keep the puck out of the net, they’re a really reliable group.



  1. December 29, 2022; Washington DC. Ottawa Senators right winger Alex DeBrincat (12) scores the game-winning goal over Washington Capitals goaltender Darcy Kuemper (35) in overtime at Capital One Arena.

    Stats and standings start to improve for Senators

  2. Canada's Connor Bedard, left, skates past Austria's Lukas Horl, right, and Luca Auer during the second period of the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship in Halifax, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022.

    ‘PHENOMENAL’: Connor Bedard puts on another show, Canada beat Austria at world juniors

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