You kept waiting for it on Tuesday, but it never came.

The Wild has conditioned us all to expect it to rise up in the final period, overturn a deficit and celebrate the hero of the night. The team has played just 15 games this season, but there have been plenty of comebacks. And many heroes.

But Minnesota couldn't overcome a first period in which it gave up two goals and spent the rest of the night chasing the game. The Wild buzzed and probed but fell short to the San Jose Sharks, 4-1.

How could this happen? This was not the Wild team that had risen to the top of the Central Division. It has been the most exciting team in the Twin Cities.

The Wild is 5-4 when the opponent scores first, has won twice when trailing after two periods and is 4-0 in overtime. That means no bathroom breaks or thoughts about heading for the parking lot if the Wild is trailing late. Along the way, we have seen several signs that, if sustained, will lead to a successful season.

Ryan Hartman, who has not scored more than 19 goals in a season, already has seven. He had seven all of last season.

Marcus Foligno has been a force early on, with five goals and five assists.

Joel Eriksson Ek scored his sixth goal of the season on Tuesday and should have had a second.

Unexpected production has come from everywhere. Like Rem Pitlick opening his NHL scoring career with a hat trick last week. Because of this, we were getting used to winning.

Things didn't work out on Tuesday, as the Wild got within 2-1 but no closer. There was no late magic as San Jose added a third-period goal.

It was Minnesota's first game at Xcel following a road trip during which it won two of three games. And, in the loss, it could have at least forced overtime in Vegas if the power play hadn't petered out.

Overall, the 10-5 Wild is deeper than believed. Its signings on defense have worked out. The goaltending has been reliable. And it has remained relentless when trailing late in games. All of these are signs of a team that can stay relevant for an entire season, which would be an impressive response after the Wild cut ties with Zach Parise and Ryan Suter during the offseason without knowing how it would move forward.

It wasn't long ago that the Wild dealt with the aftermath of buying out its two former stars, scrambled to sign defensemen and sweated out the final details of Kirill Kaprizov's contract extension. It was a rocky offseason, but General Manager Bill Guerin has the team he wants.

Coach Dean Evason has worked well with the group, shuffling lines to help get struggling players going, riding hot hands and scratching players who are underperforming. His body of work suggests a contract extension is deserved, Tuesday's loss notwithstanding.

The Wild has moved forward by winning. Now it has to prove that its late-game clutch play is a trait woven into this team's fabric and not just a phase with an expiration date.

Kaprizov and Kevin Fiala now have to prove that their early season malaise isn't going to be a season-long headache. Kaprizov has 11 points, tied for the team lead, but has only three goals. He was practically invisible on Tuesday, with two shots on goal and two giveaways. It will be difficult for the Wild to hunt for wins while Kaprizov has his GPS out, searching for his scoring touch.

Fiala picked up his seventh assist on Tuesday, but he's got more than three goals in him as well.

A revived Kaprizov might not have mattered Tuesday anyway, as the team looked flat in its return from out West.

"You can go through and pick guys," Evason said. "We didn't have enough in this game."

More times than not, the Wild has had enough to be one of six teams with double digit wins.

Imagine what it will look like when Kaprizov and Fiala get going.

Correction: A previous version of this column incorrectly identified the first name of the Minnesota Wild’s general manager. It is Bill Guerin.