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Talk about coming back with a vengeance.

He’s been one of the two dancers to beat along with Nicole Scherzinger this season, but Evan Lysacek nearly found himself eliminated last week.

That was then, this is now. The Olympic gold medalist skated his way to a rare 30 with a saucy Argentine tango. Power. Control. Heat. Perfection.

You don’t see Len dole out many 10s, so this was no small feat. Nicole and Erin Andrews both put up strong 27s, but this was Evan’s evening.

Just the same, there much breathing room between worst and first by the end of the night, thanks to the newly-introduced Cha-Cha Challenge.

Evan Lysacek’s individual routine was perfect, but he couldn’t carry the team.

Evan, Erin and Niecy Nash (Team Madonna) took on Nicole, Chad and Pam (Team Lady Gaga) … and got whomped. A 27-24 victory may not seem too demonstrative, but it helped the latter trio pull closer in the compounded standings.

Other highlights: Maksim Chmerkovskiy’s pants-off dance-off style intro (even Len had to give it props), Chad Ochocinco’s passionate waltz, and Carrie Ann telling Nicole “you are by far the best dancer we’ve ever had on this show.” Wow.

Last night’s full scoreboard and lots of pics after the jump

  • Evan Lysacek & Anna Trebunskaya – Individual: 30. Team Challenge: 24. Total: 54.
  • Nicole Scherzinger & Derek Hough – Individual: 27. Team Challenge: 27. Total: 54.
  • Chad Ochocinco & Cheryl Burke – Individual: 25. Team Challenge: 27. Total: 52.
  • Erin Andrews & Maksim Chmerkovskiy – Individual: 27. Team Challenge: 24. Total: 51.
  • Pamela Anderson & Damian Whitewood – Individual: 24. Team Challenge: 27. Total: 51.
  • Niecy Nash & Louis Van Amstel – Individual: 25. Team Challenge: 24. Total: 49.

Who’s going home tonight? It’s not looking good for Niecy, although Pamela could fall out of favor with the voters again as well. Erin and Chad look safe.

Who do you think should be sent packing? Who were your favorite dancers last night? Tell us, then click to enlarge some more photos from Monday …

Who are you pulling for on Dancing with the Stars?