Everything became perfectly clear late in the third period on Monday when Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon committed a crosschecking penalty that, luckily for him, didn't lead to a suspension.

Spurgeon is as mild-mannered as an insurance salesman. He's been a finalist for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, awarded annually for "sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct." But in this moment Monday night, he chopped down on Pavel Buchnevich's ankles hard enough to get levied a $5,000 fine Tuesday.

"It's something I'm not proud of and something I don't usually do," Spurgeon said. "I got a little frustrated. I'm just happy he's all right."

When the usually classy Spurgeon steps out of character, you know something is amiss.

And that's why the Wild will beat the Blues on Wednesday and head to St. Louis with this series tied 1-1. Because those who offered up a comprehensive capitulation to the Blues on Monday had to be impostors in Wild sweaters.

The Wild knows St. Louis has the best road power play in the league, but there was a procession to the penalty box on Monday, allowing the Blues to attack one of the Wild's greatest weaknesses.

Marc-Andre Fleury was going for his 91st career postseason victory on Monday while his counterpart, Ville Husso, was starting his first postseason game. Yet all the juicy rebounds came off Fleury, with a couple right to the sticks of Blues players for goals, while Husso pitched a shutout.

A packed Xcel Energy Center was ready for the most successful Wild team in regular-season history to show off its two high-scoring young stars in Kirill Kaprizov and Kevin Fiala. The two combined to take nine shots on Monday but went goalless.

The Wild were unrecognizable on Monday.

Practice was optional on Tuesday, and most players stayed home. That gave coach Dean Evason plenty of time to search for the team that was fifth with 113 points during the regular season. The team that was one of the hottest in the league at the end of the regular season. The one with two 30-goal scorers and one 40-goal savant.

St. Louis is 13-1-1 against the Wild over the past 15 games but there's no better time than the playoffs to flip that script. And it will start on Wednesday when the real Wild shows up and evens the series.

It won't be easy. When the teams met for the Winter Classic, Blues players wore Hawaiian shirts, shorts and flip-flops as they boarded a bus from the hotel to Target Field. Then they pumped six goals past Wild goaltender Cam Talbot. Look for the Wild to make St. Louis begin to feel uncomfortable, starting with Husso.

The Wild attempted 70 shots to 42 for St. Louis. You can't score without getting a look first, and the Wild had plenty of them. Break through against Husso before he starts to think he's a hot goaltender.

Expect the Wild to cut down on trips to the penalty box Wednesday, keeping the Blues' high-octane power play away from its leaky penalty kill. The Wild will play with more composure. Jordan Greenway will not crosscheck right in front of the referee. Spurgeon will not use his stick as an ax.

It would be great if the Wild could decline penalties on St. Louis to keep its crummy power play off the ice, but that's not the rule. So maybe the Wild will find a way to score with a man advantage. Fleury deserves another start and will remind everyone that there's a Stanley Cup-winning goaltender in the house.

And the Wild will score first. The beautiful pass that Mats Zuccarello fed Fiala for a shot in the first period Monday that Husso somehow stopped instead will have Husso reaching for its jet stream on Wednesday.

All of this is known because the team that wore the Christmas colors on Monday was not the Wild. Everyone responsible for Monday's loss knows it and will get St. Louis' attention on Wednesday as the Wild ties the series. The real Wild will prevail.