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Dadonov lifts Golden Knights to improbable 5-4 OT win against Blackhawks after trailing 3-0 in third

The man who could not be traded saved the season with his fifth goal in four games.

Chicago Blackhawks v Vegas Golden Knights Photo by Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images

The story writes itself.

Just days after being discarded in a trade-deadline deal by the Vegas Golden Knights, it was none other than Evgenii Dadonov who played the hero in Saturday’s 5-4 overtime win against the Chicago Blackhawks at T-Mobile Arena.

With 15 games remaining in the regular season, the Golden Knights were desperate for two points, and Dadonov — skating in his second game since the trade was voided — put the finishing touches on a masterful third-period comeback.

The Golden Knights trailed 3-0 at the start of the third but evened things up just 3:16 into the frame. Though Chicago regained the lead, the Knights tied it up less than a minute later and ultimately netted the game-winner 2:05 into extra time.

It was a vintage Golden Knights comeback, something that has not been featured much in Year 5, and it preserved Vegas’ postseason hopes in the tight Western Conference race.

The Golden Knights welcomed Alec Martinez back into the fold after the rearguard missed 39 games with a facial injury suffered Nov. 11. Zach Whitecloud and Michael Amadio were removed from COVID protocol and reinserted into the lineup.

It was all Chicago early.

Though the Golden Knights had some good chances, Chicago found twine to take a 1-0 lead just past the midway mark of the first period.

Dominik Kubalik’s shot deflected off Shea Theodore and through the pads of Logan Thompson, who made his sixth straight start.

That took some of the air out of Vegas’ sails and gave the Blackhawks all the momentum for the remainder of the frame.

That carried over into the second, where the Hawks added two more goals.

Jonathan Toews made it 2-0 when he was left all alone and tipped home a perfect feed from Alex DeBrincat.

Dylan Strome made it 3-0 when he scored off a rebound.

That helped Chicago take a daunting 3-0 lead into the third.

However, the Golden Knights had one of their best periods of the season, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Chandler Stephenson got things going when he made it 3-1 just 1:24 into the frame, beating Kevin Lankinen under the arm off a feed from Dadonov, which extended his point streak to four games.

Less than 60 seconds later, William Karlsson brought Vegas within one when he deflected Dylan Coghlan’s point shot.

Jack Eichel finished off the comeback, giving the Golden Knights three goals in the first 3:16 of the frame as he went to the front of the net, forced Lankinen out of position and slid the puck into the empty cage.

The Blackhawks came right back, forcing Thompson to make two huge stops on DeBrincat, including a point-blank chance right after Eichel’s tally.

But DeBrincat finally broke through on his third chance in tight, beating Thompson above the blocker to give Chicago a 4-3 lead just under nine minutes into the third.

The Golden Knights didn’t waste much time in fighting back, however, as Alex Pietrangelo evened things up at 4-4 less than a minute later.

In fact, it took just 47 seconds for the Knights to erase the go-ahead goal, ultimately forcing overtime.

While reaching overtime allowed the Golden Knights to secure a much-needed and well-deserved point, the all-important second point was still up for grabs.

It was none other than Dadonov who made it happen.

The narrative of all narratives continued, as Dadonov scored the game-winning goal in overtime, lifting Vegas to the 5-4 overtime win to save the season.

It was Dadonov’s fifth goal in his last four games. He has at least a goal in four straight games, all wins for Vegas. In the two games he missed due to the trade complications, the Golden Knights were outscored 7-0.

Martinez finished the game with a minus-one rating, one shot, three hits and two blocks in 13:48 of ice time.

The Golden Knights’ win puts them back into the second wildcard seed with a one-point lead over Dallas, but the Stars have five games in hand.

This was an absolute must-win game for the Golden Knights, and while the effort through 40 minutes was inexcusable, the epic comeback not only saved the season but has the potential to spark a real push in the final 14 games, the first of which comes Wednesday in Seattle.