This first-round battle between the Wild and Blues has been as advertised, a struggle between two high-powered offenses that helped their respective teams finish next to each other in the Central Division.

An edginess has been there, too, and that's expected because of both squads' gritty styles, their familiarity as rivals and the intensity that escalates come playoff time.

But how the physicality is showing up on the ice has evolved the longer this best-of-seven series has gone on.

"You've just got to play between the whistles," Wild winger Nic Deslauriers said. "Nothing after. The physicality is going to be there. There's some games we try to be more disciplined and get unlucky on a high stick and things like that. We know how we have to play.

"We have to play the way we want to and put the puck deep and finish our hits and create the offense there."

In Game 1, much of the pushing and shoving came during stoppages to put the Wild in penalty trouble that St. Louis capitalized on en route to a 4-0 shutout.

The Wild was cleaner while bouncing back in Game 2, but its poise was even sharper during Game 3 when it crushed the Blues 5-1.

After the Wild jumped out to an early lead last Friday at Enterprise Center, scoring on its first shot and building a 2-0 head start before the first period ended, St. Louis tried to seize momentum by hitting the Wild. But the Wild didn't get flustered by the contact, and the difference in composure between the two teams was noticeable.

"One hundred percent, it frustrates," Wild coach Dean Evason said. "In Game 1, did they frustrate us? Yeah. But they were up, and we were frustrated and our discipline was not good. Sure, if you don't retaliate, it's a frustrating thing. You want the guy to come back at you and yap and throw a punch and if he doesn't, it's like, 'What the heck am I supposed to do now?'"

What suits the Wild is when the team concentrate the ruggedness during the action, like when center Joel Eriksson Ek delivered a hit on the Blues' Brayden Schenn in Game 3 to knock the puck loose and create a turnover that ultimately led to Eriksson Ek's goal.

"People asked a lot early, 'Well, fine line, can you stay physical without crossing the line?'" Evason said. "Why can't you? You're finishing your check. We're not running around trying to hurt people. You're just finishing your check to wear people down because it's a long series.

"You're not running around to injury anybody. You're just doing what you're supposed to do in the game of hockey. Our guys have done a good job all year."

Making history

By skating in Game 5 at Xcel Energy Center, captain Jared Spurgeon and defenseman Jonas Brodin surpassed Mikko Koivu for the most playoff appearances in Wild history at 60.

Both players are in their ninth postseason, which is tied with Koivu for tops with the Wild.

Pivotal matchup

When a best-of-seven is tied 2-2, whoever nabs Game 5 has won the series 79% of the time (219-58) in NHL history.

After the home side has gone up 3-2; it's 138-33 in closing out the series while the road team went 81-25 when winning Game 5.