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Bulis battles way out of doghouse

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Scores, hits, meshes well on second line with Naslund, Morrison
Ben Kuzma, The Province
Published: Sunday, October 29, 2006

With the issue in doubt and the Vancouver Canucks pressing to end the suspense in regulation time Friday, a resounding thud along the end boards did not go unnoticed.

Yes, that was Jan Bulis who stapled defenceman Ben Clymer to the wall.

"I had one good one for sure," chuckled a relieved Bulis following a rousing 3-2 shootout win over the Washington Capitals at GM Place as the Canucks improved to 7-4-1.

"That helps for sure. It doesn't have to be points or goals, you can do other things to pump yourself up, too."

The beleaguered Bulis did much more than that. The winger not only opened the scoring and finished with a season-high five shots, he meshed well on a rejuvenated line with Markus Naslund and Brendan Morrison to suspend ongoing debate over the winger's resolve to stay out of the doghouse.

Twice benched in the third period this season -- Wednesday in Chicago and Oct. 8 in Denver -- for inconsistency and lazy penalties, the struggling Czech native was summoned for a one-on-one meeting with coach Alain Vigneault. That came after a stupid unsportsmanlike conduct penalty Wednesday for swearing at referee Michael McGeough.

"I had a few meetings with him and I don't blame him," said Bulis, who failed to score in his first eight outings and was dropped to the fourth line by the end of the last five-game trip. "He puts you on a line like that and he wants results. I know I have to battle for the puck and for position and be hungry for the puck.

"I didn't focus for goals tonight and it just came."

While it took Morrison's backhand five-hole trickler through Olaf Kolzig to end the shootout suspense, Bulis came to play early as the Caps were outshot 16-1 in the first period and 15-2 in the third.

Bulis boldly went to the slot and wristed a neat Morrison feed from behind the net past Kolzig 12:37 into the game for his second goal of the season. He was also stopped on a breakaway just after Taylor Pyatt potted his sixth of the season on the power play to make it 2-0.

Bulis was also thwarted in the slot in the second period before Dainius Zubrus and Alexander Ovechkin scored in a two-minute span to set the stage for a wild third period and overtime.

Bulis hustled through traffic to set up Morrison early in the final frame, forcing Kolzig to make one of his 42 saves.

"The last couple of days were pretty tough for me and the frustration was there a lot," Bulis admitted of proving his one-year, $1.3-million-US free-agent signing was a wise investment.

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