DALLAS — It's not just about getting under the Ducks' skin with the Dallas Stars, it's about penetrating their minds.
The evidence includes Antoine Roussel's Game 3 punch directed at Ryan Getzlaf's cut-up face, Ryan Garbutt's slide that broke the right leg of Ducks defenseman Stephane Robidas, and Stars Coach Lindy Ruff's endorsement of the roughness.
"A couple of scrums that, I'm pretty sure if you watch, our guys got punched in the face a few times … when you're getting punched in the face, you're going to punch back … playoff hockey's emotional," Ruff said after Dallas' 3-0 victory that cut the Ducks' Western Conference first-round best-of-seven series lead to 2-1.
After losing the first two games, the Stars clearly displayed their desperation mode in a 17-penalty battle, and now it's the Ducks' turn to answer in Game 4 on Wednesday at American Airlines Center.
"We need to bear down, come to the rink ready to battle. You see a guy break his leg for a second time, you feel that down deep," Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano said, referring to Robidas, who had the same injury earlier in the season before being traded by the Stars to the Ducks.
"We're looking to make things right. We know what those guys do. They play hard, take liberties when the time is right. You have to play them and their best players hard. It's not about being stupid, taking a bunch of penalties and losing. It's about playing playoff hockey."
Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said he warned Getzlaf and Corey Perry that Dallas will continue its Game 3 tactics.
"You counteract that with goals. If you're not going to make them pay, they're not going to fear you," Boudreau said. "It's not the Marquess of Queensberry rules out here."
Getzlaf said he embraces the challenge, pushing his teammates to "compete a little bit harder, create stuff around their crease, get to that net harder, getting second shots, screening."
The Ducks couldn't get any of their 37 shots past goalie Kari Lehtonen in Game 3.
In a week in which he has suffered the nasty facial laceration from a Game 1 shot and then witnessed the birth of his third child, daughter Willa, Getzlaf said Dallas' "intent to injure" is not going to intimidate the Ducks.
"They're trying to hit my head, I don't know about getting into it," Getzlaf said. "I don't have enough room right now for them to get in my head, trust me, I've got enough [stuff] going on.
"The best way to deal with that stuff is to put on a good hockey game and put ourselves in a good situation to win this series."
The Ducks are trying to win their first playoff series since 2009.
Enemy No. 1
The Ducks never retaliated for a hit Garbutt delivered Oct. 20 that caused a concussion for former Ducks forward Dustin Penner. Now Robidas has been added to Garbutt's Ducks hit list.
"You would think it's an accident, but then you see who did it and you wonder if there were different intentions," said defenseman Bryan Allen, who was on the ice with Robidas when the second-period injury happened in front of Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen.
Boudreau said, "the kidplays hard. I don't think there was anything meant."
It was just "stupid and pointless," to lose a player of Robidas' importance on such a play, Cogliano said. "Diving at a puck when really there's no play on anything … it's not right."
Mark Fistric, Emerson Etem in?
Defenseman Mark Fistric, who hasn't played with Anaheim since March 15 because of a nerve-related lower-body injury, appears to be the favorite to replace Robidas. Like Robidas, the 6-foot-2, 230-pound Fistric formerly played for Dallas, from 2007 to 2012.
Also in Tuesday's practice, forward Emerson Etem practiced alongside first-liner Perry. Boudreau hinted he might rest Teemu Selanne on Wednesday, going with a fourth line of Kyle Palmieri-Nick Bonino-Patrick Maroon.