GLENDALE, Ariz. – Wojtek Wolski left the Colorado Avalanche behind – again.
Wolski beat his former Colorado teammates in his Phoenix debut, scoring the go-ahead goal with 22 seconds left in the Coyotes’ 3-1 victory Thursday night. “It was tough playing against my old team, but I put that behind,” said Wolski, traded from Colorado to Phoenix on Wednesday in one of the NHL-high seven deals the Coyotes pulled off before the trading deadline.
“On the goal, (Shane Doan) got the puck before it was icing and gave me a great pass. The goal felt great, and I’m happy with the outcome.”
Lee Stempniak, acquired from Toronto on Wednesday, scored for the Coyotes in the first period, and Radim Vrbata added an empty-net goal with a second left.
Stempniak got to Phoenix at 12:30 p.m. Thursday. After a quick lunch and nap, he arrived at Jobing.com Arena and was immediately put on a line with Vernon Fiddler and Daniel Winnik. The unit produced the early goal, and set the tone with aggressive play.
“Nice to be thrown right in the mix,” Stempniak said. “Great being part of a winning team.”
Ilya Bryzgalov made 23 saves for Phoenix, allowing only John-Michael Liles’ power-play goal in the second period.
With the victory, Phoenix moved into fourth place in the Western Conference – a point ahead of Los Angeles and three in front of Colorado.
“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.”
Stempniak opened the scoring at 6:13 of the first period, taking Fiddler’s pass from behind the net and beating Craig Anderson.
“Since I was kid, I was taught to go to the net,” Stempniak said. “That stayed with me, and I try to find seams and openings. That’s how I was able to get the puck and find the net.”
Peter Mueller, traded to Colorado along with Kevin Porter for Wolski, assisted on Liles’ goal.
“I thought we played hard and thought we competed,” Colorado coach Joe Sacco said. “Considering we played the night before, I thought it was a great game. I like the way we’re playing. It was a tough way to lose a hockey game, no question about it.”
NOTES: Bryzgalov tied the franchise goalie season victory record with 33. … Fiddler picked up his first point since he has two assists Jan. 30 against the Rangers, a stretch of nine games. … Colorado’s Darcy Tucker left the game in the second period after catching a stick in the face. … Anderson started his 19th straight game.