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3 takeaways: Golden Knights win big in OT comeback thriller

Updated March 26, 2022 - 6:15 pm

The first Golden Knights team developed a reputation for scoring in bunches, when one goal turned into two or three in rapid succession and opposing teams would wilt under the onslaught.

That type of offensive avalanche is seen less frequently at T-Mobile Arena nowadays. But it came at a much-needed time Saturday.

Pushed into desperation mode entering the third period, the Knights responded with three quick goals to erase a 3-0 deficit and went on to a 5-4 overtime victory over the Chicago Blackhawks in front of an announced crowd of 18,301.

“Every period right now is important. Every shift is important. Down the stretch there here, we can’t afford to not play at the top of our game,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “I think everybody was thinking it. There was some stuff said between periods and we went out and we executed.”

Evgenii Dadonov scored 2:05 into overtime to cap his turbulent week and help the Knights keep pace in the playoff race with their second straight win.

Chandler Stephenson ripped a shot from the right wing past Chicago goaltender Kevin Lankinen to start the comeback early in the third period, and William Karlsson scored 59 seconds later to cut the Blackhawks lead to 3-2.

Jack Eichel buried the tying goal at 3:16 of the third to set a franchise record for the fastest three goals to start a period.

“That’s the juice we needed,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “We were running on fumes. We needed a spark and then we needed our crowd to energize us. I think we got both of those things in the third and for sure that’s a big part of it.

“If this game is on the road, maybe we score one or two and maybe we don’t get back in the game.”

That wasn’t the only comeback in the third. Pietrangelo tied the score at 4-4 midway through with his 12th goal after Alex DeBrincat put the Blackhawks ahead less than a minute earlier.

It was the fifth time the Knights have scored four goals in a period, the last time coming March 4 in the second period at Anaheim.

The Knights received a lift from the return of defenseman Alec Martinez, who was activated from injured reserve and appeared in his first game since Nov. 11. Defenseman Zach Whitecloud and forward Michael Amadio were removed from COVID-19 protocol and returned to the Knights lineup, as well.

Jonathan Toews had a goal and an assist for the Blackhawks, and Dominik Kubalik and Dylan Strome also scored.

”The guys just dug deep in the third and recognized the importance of the moment,” DeBoer said. “In the third, our best guys grabbed it and dragged us back into the game.”

Here’s what stood out from the game:

1. Fitting ending

With Dadonov out of the lineup while his trade to Anaheim was being disputed, the Knights were shut out twice. After he returned, they scored 11 goals in two games. Coincidence?

Dadonov’s winner made up for being on the ice for every Blackhawks goal and was similar to the one he scored against Florida on March 17 when he cut to the middle of the ice and beat the goalie from the slot. The difference this time was Nicolas Roy holding the puck in the zone for several seconds to create the chance.

In his past 11 appearances, Dadonov has seven goals and 11 points.

“It’s been a stressful couple days,” Dadonov said, “but I think we should stop talking about it and just only think about right now is make our final push for the team to make the playoffs.”

2. Thompson hangs tough

Goalie Logan Thompson made his sixth straight start since March 17 and fatigue might be setting in, as he didn’t appear to have his best stuff.

But as he’s shown throughout his stint in the NHL, Thompson is a battler and came up with the big saves in the third period when the Knights needed them.

ESPN reported that goalie Robin Lehner is close to returning, but Thompson’s contribution the past two weeks can’t be overstated.

“It’s tough to go down three goals like that, so it was awesome that the guys could rally,” Thompson said. “I tried to do my job there in the third and things worked out.”

3. Karlsson comes through

Points have been hard to come by for Karlsson, who had one goal in his previous 11 outings before scoring against the Blackhawks.

Karlsson deflected defenseman Dylan Coghlan’s shot out of the air for his ninth goal, making up for a miss in the first period when he couldn’t finish a cross-ice feed from Coghlan.

In 18:22 of ice time, Karlsson finished with six shot attempts and went 7-for-12 on faceoffs while also drawing two penalties on Chicago.

“He gives you his best effort every night all over the ice,” DeBoer said. “I just want him to get a little confidence and get that goal-scoring swagger back.”

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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