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McDonald’s response has punch to it

Times Staff Writer

Andy McDonald is usually among those protected by the Ducks’ abundance of tough guys, but on Friday night against Chicago, the diminutive center finally tired of being a target and fought back.

After defenseman Cam Barker slammed him against the glass, McDonald immediately turned and struck the rookie’s head. He was assessed a roughing penalty and, to his fortune, nothing more in a 5-2 victory for the Ducks.

“If it was a 3-2 game, I probably would have reacted a little differently,” said McDonald, who has only 44 penalty minutes this season. “Certainly in the playoffs, you can’t respond that way.”

It was a game full of hostilities, with the teams combining for three game misconducts and 123 penalty minutes. On Saturday, McDonald said he didn’t recall a team being as physical with him this season.

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Afterward, McDonald took offense to what he thought was a high hit by Barker along with a high stick to his helmet by Tuomo Ruutu that drew an instant response from Ducks linemate Chris Kunitz, who jumped the Finnish forward.

“There’s a big difference between being physical and being cheap,” McDonald said. “In the playoffs, teams are going to be physical, but they’re not going to be cheap because if you take a penalty, it costs your team. You put your team down [a man] and that might mean a power-play goal.

“There’s a lot more on the line than when you’re playing a team that’s completely out of the playoffs.”

Coach Randy Carlyle says he realizes teams have tried to slow down the top line of McDonald, Kunitz and Teemu Selanne with physical play, but he issued a warning to future opponents who want to take runs at his skilled trio.

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“When we feel it gets excessive, then we have a response,” he said. “If they want to take liberties, then I think the response should be that we go after their skill players.

“That’s the reality of it. It’s fact. That’s what’s going to happen.”

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Center Todd Marchant took part in his first practice since reinjuring an abdominal muscle a month ago, which has caused him to sit out the last 13 games. He called it “a step forward.”

“I don’t feel 100%, but I don’t think I should,” Marchant said. “I’m trying to get my timing back. I’m trying not to aggravate it again, as much as possible I guess. Hopefully, I’m going in the right direction.”

In other injury updates, Carlyle said he expected defenseman Chris Pronger to begin skating early next week and reported that left wing Brad May has a groin pull. May was scratched Friday because of the injury.

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DUCKS-KINGS TODAY

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5 p.m., Channel 56

Site -- Honda Center.

Radio -- 830.

Records -- Ducks 43-17-12, Kings 24-34-14.

Season series -- Ducks lead, 4-1-2.

Update -- All seven of the teams’ meetings this season have been decided by one goal, with four games decided in overtime or a shootout. “We’ve had close, hard-fought games,” Carlyle said. “When they’re your No. 1 rival, you expect that.”

Tickets -- (877) 945-3946.

eric.stephens@latimes.com

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