Despite reportedly racking up millions of dollars in losses each month, the Phoenix Coyotes made a surprising number of additions before Wednesday's trading deadline.
Among the new faces is left winger Wojtek Wolski, who is expected to make his Coyotes debut against his former Colorado Avalanche teammates Thursday night.
Phoenix took a bold step toward its first playoff berth since 2002 by completing seven deals Wednesday. Among those was a three-player trade with Colorado for the 24-year-old Wolski, who has 17 goals and 30 assists this season.
"There's no question we are night and day from where we were 24 hours ago in regards to skill, experience and grit," general manager Don Maloney said. "Our defense is now as good as anybody's, in my mind. But now we have to get the chemistry right and we have to play as a team and a group, and if we do that then we're going to be much harder (to play against)."
The moves come slightly more than four months after the NHL agreed to buy the franchise for $140 million. The league is currently looking for new owners who will keep the team in Arizona.
After filing for bankruptcy following the 2008-09 season, the Coyotes have been plagued by low attendance despite their surprisingly strong play.
Phoenix is fifth in the Western Conference and one point behind Pacific Division rival Los Angeles. It's also just one point ahead of Colorado.
The Coyotes (37-22-5) could help their cause by avoiding a season-high fourth straight loss and third in a row at home. They need Wolski's skill after being outscored 10-3 in their last three games, including Tuesday night's 5-2 defeat to visiting St. Louis.
Phoenix begin that skid with a 2-1 loss in Colorado on Feb. 12, and got its only goal from Martin Hanzal despite a 34-25 shot advantage.
Rookie center Matt Duchene, meanwhile, had both of the Avalanche's scores and tallied the go-ahead goal Wednesday night as Colorado rallied for a 4-3 win in Anaheim.
"After that first period, we realized we couldn't sit back," coach Joe Sacco said. "We had to put more passion into our game. We got more involved physically, and that's what kept us on our toes late."
Chris Stewart added a goal and two assists during the end of a three-game road losing streak. Peter Mueller, acquired in the Wolski deal, followed Stewart's score with the tying goal in the second period.
Mueller, the former No. 8 overall draft pick, had just 17 points in 54 games this season with Phoenix after a 54-point campaign as a rookie in 2007-08.
"At this point, I don't care how it goes in," Mueller said. "You throw it on the net, sometimes it goes in. I feel great just letting my teammates know immediately that I can contribute. It feels unbelievable being in a new atmosphere."
The Coyotes also fell 4-1 at the Pepsi Center on Nov. 4, but have won three of the past four matchups at Jobing.com Arena, including both meetings there last season.