Stempniak's goals lead Phoenix playoff celebration

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The Phoenix Coyotes, the surprise team of the NHL, celebrated their first playoff berth since 2002 with a 6-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche behind Lee Stempniak's two goals on Saturday night.

The Coyotes, still owned by the league after going through protracted bankruptcy proceedings last summer, clinched the postseason spot earlier in the day when Calgary lost to Boston.

Four of Phoenix's goals came from players who joined the team at the March 3 trade deadline — Stempniak, Wojtek Wolski and Derek Morris.

Stempniak, with both scores in the third period, has 12 goals in 12 games since he arrived from Toronto, including four two-goal games.

Former Coyotes forward Kevin Porter scored for the Avalanche, his first goal of the season.

Phoenix, already with the franchise record for points in a season, joined Washington and San Jose as the only teams to reach 100 this season. The Avalanche are eighth in the Western Conference, six points ahead of ninth-place Calgary.

Taylor Pyatt had a so-called "Gordie Howe hat trick" with a goal, assist and fight. Vernon Fiddler added a short-handed, empty-net goal as Phoenix matched its highest-scoring game of the season.

Stempniak's 25th goal came after a faceoff in the Colorado end, putting the Coyotes ahead 4-2 just under five minutes into the final period in front of a crowd of 17,188 — Phoenix's second home sellout in a row. He added a power play goal moments later.

Wolski, who came to Phoenix from Colorado for Peter Mueller and Porter, scored the deciding goal against his former teammates in his first game with the Coyotes. He came through again.

His goal, which put Phoenix ahead 2-1, was set up on a point-blank block by Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. Phoenix rushed the puck to the Avalanche end, and Wolski wristed in a shot from the left circle, his 22nd goal of the season and fifth since he joined the Coyotes.

Mueller, who has five goals and 10 assists since the trade, sat out the game because of a hip injury.

Pyatt's wicked wrister slipped past goalie Craig Anderson to make it 3-1 with 9:25 to play in the second period.

The Avalanche cut it to 3-2 when Milan Hedjuk scored his 22nd goal of the season on a deflected shot with just 35 seconds left in the second.

NOTES: Phoenix split the season series with Colorado 2-2 and has at least a .500 record against the top eight teams in the West. ... The Coyotes tied the franchise record for home wins at 27, set in 2001-02. ... Robinson tied Patrick Roy's franchise record for most appearances by a goalie with 65 and broke Roy's record of minutes played. ... Phoenix had lost two in a row after its franchise-record, nine-game winning streak.