Broken sticks are terribly inconvenient. Whether snapped in the course of taking a shot, at the hands of an opponent’s slash, or while delivering a crosscheck, they leave the stickholder in a tough spot. As players are penalized for playing with a broken stick, they’re required to immediately drop it to the ice. Once there, sticks often remain until picked up after a whistle or behind the play.

Unfortunately for the Devils and Canadiens, one such stick remained in the New Jersey zone during play. 

As Montreal’s David Desharnais stickhandled along the boards, New Jersey winger Jordin Tootoo pushed the broken stick towards the puck. Referee Tom Kowal immediately blew the whistle and awarded the Canadiens with a penalty shot. 

Per Rule 53.6:

When any member of the defending team, including the Coach or any non-playing person, throws or shoots any part of a stick or any other object or piece of equipment at the puck or puck carrier in his defending zone, the Referee or Linesman shall allow the play to be completed and if a goal is not scored, a penalty shot shall be awarded to the non-offending team. This shot shall be taken by the player designated by the Referee as the player fouled.

Desharnais was unable to convert on the penalty shot.  The Habs scored the game-winner a few minutes later – shorthanded, no less – en route to a 2-1 win. 

Remember, kids, it’s always best to let broken sticks lie. 

Referees for the game were Tom Kowal and Graham Skilliter. Linesmen were Don Henderson and Michel Cormier.