WASHINGTON - In the era of composite sticks rather than wood ones, you see far more snapped twigs than ever before.
On Friday night, you saw two instances in which the Islanders had the bad luck of a broken stick compounded by smart play by the Capitals and two goals in the second period that helped turn the game.
On the first, Matt Martin's stick snapped as the Caps entered the zone and Washington set up well, patiently working the puck around until Karl Alzner's one-timer got under Jaroslav Halak's arm to make it 2-1 Islanders.
Kyle Okposo's stick broke a few minutes later and the Caps again took advantage, working it around until Matt Niskanen's low shot turned into Alex Ovechkin's rebound goal.
So is it time for a stern talking-to with the stick suppliers? Or just better recognition by the Islanders that the puck needs to be slapped out of the zone?
"I think we still could be a little more aggressive there," Frans Nielsen said of the two five-sticks-on-four goals. "I had the puck in the corner and you can't send it up the wall to Okie's side because they'll be pinching on him without a stick. You have to treat it like a penalty kill, I guess."
Jack Capuano refused to call those goals bad luck, because the Caps took 20 to 30 seconds each time to meticulously set up a play after the broken sticks.
"The first one I thought we defended pretty good. It's a shot from outside the circle," Capuano said. "The second one is a smart shot, a shot off the pads; every team works on those."
The Islanders had five broken sticks in total in Game 2, far from a record in the era of lightweight, flexible and highly disposable sticks. John Tavares broke one off a faceoff, much as he did on numerous occasions this season.
"You kind of feel useless in a way, because you can't get on them quick or make them make a mistake," Nick Leddy said. "You've got to try and make do with the situation."