ST. LOUIS – With a month left in the regular season, the Wild still has plenty to figure out.
Where the team ends up in the West Division is to be determined.
Same with how the lineup clicks when the team is at full strength after key regulars return from injury.
But what could clear up most questions surrounding the team is if it stopped sending mixed messages.
After the Blues unloaded a franchise-record nine goals on Friday night in the most lopsided loss the team has ever had, the Wild was cleaner Saturday night at Enterprise Center but still lost control as St. Louis rallied 3-2 in overtime in the Wild's final game before the NHL trade deadline.
"We played properly," coach Dean Evason said, "and we do that every night, we're going to give ourselves a chance."
Blues captain Ryan O'Reilly scored on a backhand off a wraparound with two seconds to go in OT, capping off a comeback after St. Louis tied the score 2-2 in the final minute of third period.
This letdown for the Wild on the heels of progress was a microcosm of a week in which the team was all over the map, an unevenness that has been indicative of its play for the past few weeks.
That's why the Wild's response to the 9-1 drubbing — on the heels of an 8-3 rout of Colorado that tied the franchise record for goals — was important.
"Tonight was a step in the right direction," said goalie Cam Talbot, who made 27 saves. "We needed a response after last game, and we came out and I thought we did everything right to win the hockey game."
Two of the players who were idle for the blowout the night before helped set the tone for the Wild.
Promoted from their seats as reserves, Nico Sturm and Joseph Cramarossa teamed up to give the Wild a 1-0 lead in the first period.
After Cramarossa nudged a puck loose at center ice, Sturm skated in for a breakaway and buried the puck behind Blues goalie Ville Husso at 18 minutes, 25 seconds for his fifth goal of the season in his first game back in the lineup after sitting out the previous two.
The assist for Cramarossa was his first point with the Wild.
"I actually thought our line did really well," Sturm said.
Mike Hoffman tied it on the power play at 3:07 of the second, but the Wild didn't panic. And the team's composure was rewarded late in the second when it retaliated with its own power-play goal from Matt Dumba at 18:12. The Wild finished 1-for-2, while the Blues went 1-for-3.
But the Wild couldn't hold on the rest of the way.
With 42 seconds to go in the third and Husso on the bench for an extra attacker, Hoffman's shot caromed in off Dumba's glove and bounced behind Talbot to send the game to overtime, where O'Reilly corralled the winner after recording a hat trick the previous game. Husso finished with 28 saves.
The Wild are still without Kevin Fiala, Nick Bjugstad and Marcus Foligno, all of whom are sidelined by injury. When they are healthy enough to return, the Wild should get closer to realizing its potential.
And that's the crossroads the team is staring with 16 games to go, establishing what it's truly capable of after recently swinging from one extreme to the next.
"We know who we are," Evason said. "We forget sometimes and we need to have an adjustment, and we had an adjustment today of who we were. [Friday] wasn't who we are, and we had an adjustment. We chatted about it, and we got back to who we are.
"That's how we play the game and more often than not, we do that and give ourselves an opportunity to have success."