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Jan is Fa-Bulis in Philly

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
Bulis explodes with four-goal night to snap Habs seven-game road skid

Jan Bulis had every reason to smile, notching his first career hat trick and first career four-goal game.

PHILADELPHIA - It seems that all the Canadiens needed to snap their seven-game road losing skid was a bit of popcorn and a whole lot of Jan Bulis, who scored four goals in a 5-3 win over the Flyers Wednesday night at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia.

After getting a day off on Tuesday and going to the movies as a group instead, the Canadiens (22-19-6) sprang to life to notch their first road victory in eight games away from the Bell Centre. The Flyers (30-13-8) have now lost four of their last five games on home-ice.

Originally doomed to be a healthy scratch against the Flyers, Bulis rewarded head coach Bob Gainey for his last-minute change of heart by exploding with the first four-goal night of his nine-year NHL career.

"I had a meeting with Bob and he told me I wasn't playing," said Bulis "Then I came back in the afternoon and he told me I was going to suit up. Luckily, it went well for me."

With the Flyers leading 2-0 in the first period, Bulis took matters into his own hands. He got the Canadiens on the board when he scooped up a funny bounce off the boards following a Craig Rivet clearing attempt, before swooping in alone on Robert Esche and beating the Flyers goalie with a wrist shot up-high. That proved to be only the beginning for the 27-year-old.

The Czech forward, whose fourth goal proved to be the game-winner, also became the first Canadien to score four goals in a game since current Flyer Brian Savage turned the trick in an 8-2 win over the Islanders on Long Island on Jan. 8, 1998.  Bulis, who leads the team with 15 points over his last 11 games (7-8-15), is now only one goal shy of his 2003-04 season total of 13.

"It was four goals on four shots," Bulis said. "A game like this sometimes is once in a career."

Steve Begin was the only player not named Bulis to score for Montreal on Wednesday, as he provided Montreal with a two-goal cushion nearly midway through the third period.  With 10 goals in only 45 games on the season, Begin matched his career-high set in 2003-04.

Rivet, who continued to help carry the load on the blueline in the absence of both Sheldon Souray and Andrei Markov, logged 25:56 on his way to picking up a pair of assists. The veteran defenseman now has nine points over his last eight games and remains just two shy of his career high of 25 points.

In his first start in two weeks, Cristobal Huet kicked aside 24-of-27 shots for his third win of the season. The victory was also Huet's first that hasn't come against the division-leading Senators. Esche, meanwhile, stopped 10-of-15 shots while being unable to figure out Bulis. Simon Gagne, R.J. Umberger and Frederick Meyers all tallied for Philadelphia.

The Canadiens' penalty-killing unit also came up big by shutting down six of the Flyers' seven power-plays on the night. Montreal was 1-for-4 with the man advantage, with who other than Bulis notching his third power-play marker of the season.

Bob Gainey's crew won't have much time to savor their first win of their ongoing six-game road trip, with a date in Ottawa against the Senators looming less than 24 hours away.

Notes: C Chris Higgins made his return to the lineup after missing the last two games with a groin pull... D Sheldon Souray (leg infection) was not in the lineup, while LW Andrei Kostitsyn and LW Raitis Ivanans were healthy scratches and D Andrei Markov (shoulder) missed his fourth consecutive game... Bulis became the first Canadiens forward to score three or more goals against Philadelphia since Oleg Petrov scored a hat-trick in a 5-3 win over the Flyers at the Bell Centre on Jan. 14, 2002... Peter Forsberg left the game during the second period after re-aggravating a groin injury... Huet's only other career appearance in Philadelphia was back on Feb. 20, 2003, when he made his NHL debut in relief of Los Angeles Kings starter Jamie Storr in a 5-0 loss to Flyers... The newly-retired Mario Lemieux was the last player to score four goals against the Flyers when he did so in a 9-3 Penguins win back on March 20, 1993.

Manny Almela is a writer for  Files from CP were used in this report.

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