Golden Knights’ Shea Theodore delivers during chase for NHL playoffs

Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore (27) reacts after scoring in overtime against the ...

Shea Theodore wasn’t ready for the Golden Knights’ season to end.

He received the puck in the neutral zone more than two minutes into overtime against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday. Then he showed how special a defenseman he is.

Theodore skated into the offensive zone, cut to the middle of the ice around right wing T.J. Oshie, moved the puck to his backhand and elevated it past goaltender Ilya Samsonov to give the Knights a season-saving, 4-3 overtime win at T-Mobile Arena.

The skating, hands and creativity are rare for a defenseman. The fact that Theodore put those all together at a time when his team desperately needed it made the goal even more special.

The Knights have come to expect those highlight-reel plays from the 26-year-old, however. Theodore is having an impressive season, and more importantly, he’s been at his best when it’s mattered most.

“Great players go to another level at important times,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “That’s what he’s doing. He’s taking his own game to another level at the most important time of the year for us and that’s what we need.”

Theodore’s goal gave the Knights a crucial extra point in their quest to win their final five regular-season games to give themselves a chance to make the playoffs. It’s not the only time he’s given them one the last month.

Theodore had a different overtime winner April 3 in Vancouver. He scored a 6-on-5 goal in the same city April 12 with 42 seconds remaining in the third period to tie a game against the Canucks. The Knights lost in overtime but still earned a point.

The team, without those three extra points this month, would have been facing elimination as soon as Saturday. Instead the Knights still have an outside shot in the playoff chase.

“At this point of the season, we need to win out to give ourselves a chance,” Theodore said. “Definitely a sigh of relief scoring that goal (Wednesday). Hopefully, that’s just a momentum boost.”

Those game-changing plays are just a snapshot of Theodore’s performance recently.

His goal Wednesday gave him a career high (14). He set a career high in points the same game (48) with an assist on right wing Evgenii Dadonov’s third-period goal.

Plenty of that production has come within the last month. Theodore’s five goals in April are tied for the second-most among defensemen with St. Louis’ Justin Faulk, behind only Florida’s Gustav Forsling (6). His nine points in nine games are tied for the fifth-most.

That three of those points came in crucial late-game situations for the Knights is a bonus. Theodore has always shined in overtime, where the 3-on-3 format gives him more room to use his natural talents. His six overtime goals with the Knights are tied for the most in franchise history with left wings Jonathan Marchessault and Max Pacioretty.

His three overtime goals this season are tied for the most among defensemen with Colorado’s Cale Makar.

“Obviously, you get more time to make a move or find an opening,” Theodore said. “I think it’s just been good for me this year. Hopefully we keep it rolling.”

Contact Ben Gotz at bgotz@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BenSGotz on Twitter.