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Wolski, Walker off to great starts with new teams

by Mike G. Morreale
The new kids on the block certainly made quite a splash in their new colors Thursday.

In Phoenix, just one day removed from putting the finishing touches on a League-high seven deals at the trade deadline, Coyotes General Manager Don Maloney got a glimpse of what could be a fine finish to the regular season when newcomers Wojtek Wolski and Lee Stempniak scored goals in a win against the Colorado Avalanche.

In Washington, feisty Scott Walker, whom the Capitals acquired in a deal with Carolina on Wednesday, notched his first 2-goal game in more than three years in a victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

In Atlanta, trade-deadline acquisition Clarke MacArthur scored and Evgeny Artyukhin, acquired Monday by Thrashers GM Don Waddell, also connected in his debut on a spectacular end-to-end rush in a 6-3 defeat of the New York Islanders.

Wolski not only was named the game's First Star after scoring the game-winner in a 3-1 victory, but he did it against the Avalanche, his former team. The 24-year-old left wing, who played on a line with Shane Doan and center Matt Lombardi, was part of a three-player deal in which Phoenix shipped forwards Peter Mueller and Kevin Porter to Colorado. Another fresh face in the lineup, Petteri Nokelainen, played on a line with center Robert Lang and Lauri Korpikoski

Mueller, by the way, notched an assist on the lone Colorado goal and has 2 points in two games for the Avalanche.

"It was tough playing against my old team, but I put that behind," Wolski said. "On the goal, (Doan) got the puck before it was icing and gave me a great pass."

"I was nervous, probably didn't get a good pregame nap, and I was just trying to play and fit in. They (the Caps) are playing so good, you just don't want to disrupt them." -- Scott Walker

Maloney's acquisition of Stempniak from Toronto for defenseman Matt Jones and 2010 fourth- and seventh-round draft picks also proved a strong move. Stempniak, the game's Second Star, also scored in his Phoenix debut.

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

The victory snapped Phoenix's three-game losing streak and moved them into fourth place in the Western Conference.

Stempniak arrived in Phoenix at 12:30 p.m. Thursday and, following a quick lunch and a nap, joined his new teammates at Arena and was placed on a line with Vernon Fiddler and Daniel Winnik -- a threesome that opened the scoring and played aggressive throughout.

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

Walker, who was part of four trades made by Washington GM George McPhee on Wednesday, was brought in from Carolina for a 2010 seventh-round draft pick. His 2 goals came 2:58 apart in the third period, and it was his first multi-goal game since scoring twice against Pittsburgh on March 2, 2007. His game-winner was his first in the regular season since an overtime tally against Buffalo on March 8, 2008.

"I was nervous, probably didn't get a good pregame nap, and I was just trying to play and fit in," Walker, the game's First Star, said. "They (the Caps) are playing so good, you just don't want to disrupt them."

Walker snapped a 4-4 tie when he deflected Mike Green's shot from the point and then dove to knock home the rebound at the 13:09 mark.

"His history has been in the right place at the right time," said Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau, whose team stands atop the Eastern Conference with 43 wins and 94 points.

In addition to Walker, forward Eric Belanger and defenseman Joe Corvo also made positive first impressions with the Capitals. Belanger, who centered a line with Eric Fehr and Tomas Fleischmann, won five of 12 faceoffs (42 percent) and Corvo skated 20:19 and blocked three shots, including consecutive stops off the stick of red-hot Steven Stamkos during a Tampa Bay power play in the second period.

Corvo, incidentally, is just the second Capital to wear No. 77. Adam Oates, now an assistant coach with the Lightning, was the first.

"We've thrown a completely different system at these guys. I know it's a lot, but they're going, 'Whoa, we've never played liked that,'" Boudreau said. "It's a lot to get in the head and understand and I thought they picked it up well."

Atlanta's newest player, MacArthur, who played on a line with center Rich Peverley and Maxim Afinogenov, connected during a four-goal first period for the Thrashers. MacArthur was acquired from the Buffalo Sabres for third- and fourth-round draft choices in 2010.

"I thought that we had instant chemistry with the new guys," Atlanta coach John Anderson said. "That's a hard thing to find. If you score a couple of goals for your new team, it endures you right away."

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