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LAS VEGAS – Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo returned to practice Saturday morning after missing nine games when his 4-year-old daughter became seriously ill.

Pietrangelo said he feels comfortable that his daughter, Evelyn, is progressing well enough to return in time for Saturday night’s home game against the New York Islanders.

She said Evelyn came down with the flu around Thanksgiving and then developed encephalitis, which affected her brain. This resulted in him losing his motor skills, including not being able to open his eyes for the first five days.

Pietrangelo said they “tried a course of treatment” that reversed the brain damage after a week.

“I don’t want to say it’s a surprise, but it came a lot faster than I guess the initial diagnosis,” Pietrangelo said. “They can’t really give you a timeline for when your precious little girl will get better. It’s pretty scary for mom and dad, so I said I’m not going back to work until I know where he’s at home. “.

Pietrangelo said her daughter returned home from a Las Vegas hospital on Wednesday and said the next morning she wanted to walk.

“We thought it could be months,” Pietrangelo said. “[Friday], he just kept walking and walking in circles for a whole day. God answered our prayers. It’s amazing how far he’s come in the last 48 hours.”

He said Evelyn will still be recovering for months.

His return to the Knights comes as the club deals with a number of injuries on the blue line. Pietrangelo led Vegas defensemen with 21 points behind Shea Theodore, who has been sidelined with a lower-body injury. Teodor has 22 points.

“It’s good to have Alex back in the fold and in the mix,” Knights coach Bruce Cassidy said. “You have to take care of your family first. They’re in a better place than they were a few weeks ago, so good for everyone involved and for him to be back there.”

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