(St. Paul, Minn.) Juraj Slafkovsky’s learning continues, and that includes managing his relationships with referees.

Thursday night in Minnesota was the perfect laboratory to test his discipline. The referees, rather interventionist, awarded 15 penalties. The two teams bickered like Pedro Martinez and Don Zimmer in 2003. When Marco Rossi, with his teenage face and build, drops the gloves, it is a sign that emotions are running high.

So it was a good night to test Slafkovsky’s control. And despite some not-always-subtle protests to officials, the strapping 19-year-old passed the exam.

“Sometimes the emotions… You get more angry than you should,” Slafkovsky admitted after the Canadian’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Wild. But the coaches are good at bringing us back to the present, reminding us that the game continues. I’m a guy who can get very frustrated quickly. It depends on the personalities. Perhaps I lose my patience more quickly than others! »

Not only did Slafkovsky avoid the penalty box, but he remained focused enough to deliver another encouraging performance to the right of Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield.

History will record that the 1st pick of the 2022 draft collected two points on this chilly Thursday evening. Points that are always important to put in context. On November 18 in Boston, Slafkovsky also had two points, but he delivered one of his worst performances of the season.

On the second, he himself scored a goal that we certainly won’t see in the top 10 of the best goals of his career. But if the puck shot by Savard deflected onto his stick, it’s because he was in the right place.

“We see how much of a difference trust makes,” noted Savard. He plays better and better, he brings the puck to the net, his shot passes more often to the goalie. It’s fun to see it develop. »

In fewer words, St-Louis was also delighted. “The guys see it, we are a lot more inside, we are more dangerous and that’s an example,” added the CH head coach.

And Slafkovsky? “I don’t care how it fits. Of course I would love to cross the rink from one end to the other. But it’s a goal and it allowed us to create equality. »

In the victorious camp, there is precisely a player capable of crossing the entire length of the ice rink. It was Kirill Kaprizov, author of the winning goal, who spoiled CH’s comeback, which was trailing 2-0, then 3-2.

“The guys tried to give it their all, but in overtime it was heads or tails. It’s a great pass that was made to an excellent player,” noted Savard.

This type of player doesn’t grow on trees, but the fact remains that he was drafted 135th overall. The most common way to acquire such players remains to draft them early – for example at No. 1 when an exceptional player emerges – but it also happens that a late roll of the dice favors a team, as is the case here.

There is no indication that such a player is currently in the Canadiens’ system. Maybe he is. Maybe he will be drafted next June. Maybe not. But in the meantime, the Habs will have to try to win differently.

For example by throwing himself in front of a shot, as Nick Suzuki did in the final seconds of the third period, to push the match into overtime. “You can’t start doing it when you’re in the playoffs. When you see your captain do it, you no longer have an excuse not to do it,” recalled Brendan Gallagher.

For example by rushing towards the net to score goals that are not always elegant.