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Ex-Av Wolski's late goal lifts Coyotes past Colorado

by John Kreiser

The Phoenix Coyotes got Wojtek Wolski at the trade deadline to be a goal-scorer. He did just that in his debut -- and spoiled the night for his old team in the process.

Wolski broke a 1-1 tie when he scored with 22.7 seconds remaining, as the Coyotes beat Wolski's old team, the Colorado Avalanche 3-1 on Thursday night.

"It was tough playing against my old team, but I put that behind," said Wolski, who was traded from Colorado to Phoenix on Wednesday in one of the seven deals the Coyotes pulled off before the trading deadline.

With the game seemingly headed for overtime, Shane Doan dug out Sami Lepisto's dump-in behind the Colorado net and found Wolski in the slot for a quick one-timer past Craig Anderson. Radim Vrbata hit the empty net an instant before the final horn for the final margin as the Coyotes ended a three-game losing streak.

"On the goal, (Shane Doan) got the puck before it was icing and gave me a great pass," Wolski said. "The goal felt great, and I'm happy with the outcome."

Avs coach Joe Sacco definitely was not happy.

"It started at the red line with about 40 seconds left in the period. We had a chance to get the puck deep and play in their end," a disappointed Sacco said. "Instead, we turned it over and ended up back in our end.

"I thought we played hard. I thought we competed. I thought it was a gritty game considering we played the night before. I like the way we're playing. It's a tough way to lose a hockey game."

As for losing on a goal by a player who was wearing a Colorado uniform the day before, Sacco said, "it doesn't matter."

Another newcomer, Lee Stempniak, opened the scoring for Phoenix 6:13 into the game when he took Vernon Fiddler's passout and slammed a shot past Anderson. Stempniak came in a deal that sent two draft picks to Toronto.

"Nice to be thrown right in the mix," Stempniak said. "Great being part of a winning team."

Ilya Bryzgalov kept the Coyotes on top until 16:58 of the second period, when defenseman John-Michael Liles scored a power-play goal. Peter Mueller, who went to Colorado in the deal that brought Wolski to the desert, assisted on the goal after scoring at Anaheim on Tuesday in his Avs debut.

"We got our legs under us after the first period," Sacco said.

Bryzgalov finished with 23 saves to earn his 33rd win, matching the franchise single-season record.

The victory moved the Coyotes into fourth place in the West with 81 points, one ahead of Los Angeles and three ahead of Colorado, which missed a chance to tie Vancouver for the Northwest Division lead. But Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said his team still has a lot of work ahead to integrate all the newcomers.

"Nice to see contributions from the new players, but, right now, this is a work in progress," Tippett said. "Overall, we have to play better. We'll continue to tweak things until we get it right."

Material from team media and wire services was used in this report

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