It's been a tough go for Vancouver Canucks forward Andrei Kuzmenko as of late. Life under head coach Rick Tocchet hasn't been easy, and the goal-scoring we saw in 2022-23 dried up substantially. On Saturday, Kuzmenko put the rough start behind him, en-route to a two-goal first period for the Canucks against the San Jose Sharks. This is the 27-year-old's first multi-goal game since March 28, when he scored two goals in an overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues.
Just under two minutes into the game, Kuzmenko found himself trailing the play behind Elias Pettersson and Ilya Mikheyev before Pettersson's pass failed to find the mark. Kuzmenko alertly picked up the loose puck between Mikael Granlund's skates before pivoting to his left and rifling his shot by Mackenzie Blackwood.
For his second act of the night, Kuzmenko doubled the Canucks' lead to 2-0, this time on the power play. Positioned at the bumper, the Russian forward watches as the puck goes right to left, from high to low. Eventually the puck settled on J.T. Miller's stick, and shortly thereafter, Miller sent the puck towards goal from the point. Kuzmenko, still at the bumper, was able to hover his way towards the front of the net, positioning himself for the redirect goal at 6:51 in the first period.
Unfortunately for the Vancouver Canucks, they couldn't do a whole lot with Kuzmenko's two-goal buffer. At 13:32, Granlund was able to pull one back for the Sharks with a tip-in, and three minutes later, Tomas Hertl tied the game at 2-2 with his backhander. At the end of the first period, the shots on goal were 5-5, with neither team creating an awful lot offensively. The Canucks had seven giveaways to the Sharks' two, and converted on the game's only power play opportunity to that point.