Series (Game 4 of 4)

Series tied 2-2

Game 1: Wednesday, November 4th
Game 2: Friday, February 12th
Game 3: Thursday, March 4th
Game 4: Saturday, March 27th

Avalanche 2

(41-26-7, 89 pts)

Coyotes 6

(47-23-6, 100 pts)

9:00 PM ET, March 27, 2010 Arena, Glendale, Arizona

1 2 3 T
COL 1 1 02
ARI 1 2 36

T. Pyatt (Coyotes - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

W. Wolski (Coyotes - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 2

L. Stempniak (Coyotes - RW): Goals: 2, Assists: 1

Avalanche-Coyotes Preview


In his first game after the Colorado Avalanche traded him to Phoenix earlier this month, Wojtek Wolski scored the game-winning goal against his former team, and he's played a major role in helping the Coyotes to the brink of their first playoff berth since 2002.

It's possible Peter Mueller has made an even bigger impact for Colorado.

Two of the Western Conference's most surprising teams meet again Saturday night in the desert as the Coyotes look to officially complete their unlikely rise from bankruptcy to the postseason.

Perhaps the most significant of Phoenix's seven trades before the March 3 deadline was the acquisition of Wolski in exchange for Mueller and Kevin Porter.

Wolski broke a 1-1 tie with 23 seconds left in a 3-1 win over the Avalanche on March 4, and he has nine points during Phoenix's 9-1-1 stretch to help the Coyotes challenge San Jose and Chicago for the Western Conference lead.

Less than a year after the team declared bankruptcy and was purchased by the NHL, Phoenix (46-23-6) needs one more point to clinch its first postseason berth in eight years, and would prefer to do it at Arena, where it is 26-10-2 despite the league's worst attendance.

"I think our fans recognize what we're trying to do," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "We want to be a playoff team, we want to earn the right to be in the playoffs. We're close, but we've got some work to do yet."

The Coyotes also have bigger goals. Despite dropping two straight following a nine-game winning streak, they remain one point behind the Blackhawks and two back of the West-leading Sharks thanks to a 4-3 shootout loss at Nashville on Thursday night.

Wolski helped tie the game with a goal and an assist in the third period, and Lee Stempniak scored his 10th goal in 11 games with Phoenix following a deadline deal with Toronto.

The acquisition of Mueller was Colorado's biggest move at the deadline, and it has paid immediate dividends. After the 21-year-old center totaled 17 points in 54 games with Phoenix, he has five goals and 10 assists in his first 11 games with the Avs.

"He's starting to feel good about himself," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said. "When you start to feel good about yourself, your game picks up."

Mueller had two assists and added a shootout goal in a 4-3 win over Los Angeles on Wednesday as Colorado (41-25-7) snapped a three-game losing streak and moved closer to a postseason spot.

"This was big -- the biggest two points of the year," said forward Chris Stewart, who had the shootout winner after his eight-game point streak ended. "It would have hurt not to come away with two. ... We can't look for help from the rest of the league. We have to do it ourselves."

The Avs finished at the bottom of the West last season, but they hold a six-point lead and a game in hand on ninth-place Calgary. They could also still catch Northwest Division-leading Vancouver, which leads Colorado by five points.

One point would secure the season series for the Avalanche, who beat the Coyotes twice in Denver before the loss earlier this month. Colorado, however, has been held to three total goals while losing its last three trips to Arizona.

The Avs will get forward Darcy Tucker back Friday following a one-game suspension, and rookie Brandon Yip may also return. Yip had 11 goals and seven assists in 26 games before suffering a shoulder injury March 1.