Bulis relishes offensive role in leading Canucks past Flames

Bulis, who signed with Vancouver after he couldn’t come to terms with the Montreal Canadiens, scored the winner early in the third period Friday night as the Vancouver Canucks defeated the Calgary Flames 3-2 in NHL exhibition play.

“Whatever they told me they were looking for from me, they’re giving it to me right now,” Bulis said of his opportunities to play on the top two lines and get power play minutes with the Canucks. “No complaints.

“It’s a lot easier when you score a goal. The hands are looser a little bit and it goes better.”

Bulis, who signed for US$1.3 million after he scored 20 goals last season, snapped a high shot from the slot after Brendan Morrison won an offensive zone face-off.

“I just went in and hit a loose puck and I was happy for that,” he said after beating Calgary netminder Miikka Kiprusoff.

“But if you get four or five shots a game, then it’s easier and you hope it’s going to go like that in the season and not just in the pre-season.”

The Canucks had to kill off overlapping minor penalties late in the game as the Flames tried to get a tie with Kiprusoff lifted for an extra attacker.

Ryan Kesler and Josh Green scored the other goals for Vancouver who improved to 2-5.

Jarome Iginla gave the Flames an early lead and Andrei Zyuzin also counted for Calgary (3-2-1) who lost their second in a row.

Both clubs iced lineups that will be close to those that open the season next week but the Canucks played an uptempo game and outshot the Flames 39-23.

“It was getting a little lonely back there but there’s going to be nights like that and it was a good test for me of my mental strength to be ready in the third period,” said Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo who saw lots of rubber playing for the Florida Panthers.

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“I knew they were going to have a few scoring chances at the end. There was a feeling a couple of calls would go against us.”

Luongo was beaten by Iginla who fired a rocket over his glove on an early Calgary power play. Zyuzin had a similar shot to give the Flames a 2-2 tie entering the third period.

While the Canucks got scoring from their third and fourth lines, they sputtered on the power play, going 0-for-9 with the man advantage.

“We’re still not getting the final touches but hopefully that will come,” said Markus Naslund who started the game with Bulis and Morrison but finished it with Henrik and Daniel Sedin.

Kiprusoff, who was beaten on low shots by Kesler and Green, found a positive in the Flames’ ability to shut Vancouver down on the power play.

“We took too many penalties tonight,” he said. “It was good for our penalty kill.”

Calgary coach Jim Playfair said his club, which won the Northwest Division last season and has Stanley Cup aspirations, had an average night.

“I didn’t think collectively we were good for a long enough period of time to make a push,” Playfair said.

“We tired too many guys with too many penalties as opposed to getting a push back to their own blue line.”

Notes: The Canucks conclude exhibition play here Saturday night against the Edmonton Oilers while the Flames visit the San Jose Sharks … Calgary beat the Canucks 3-1 in the teams’ first exhibition game … both clubs won four games against each other last season.