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Ducks and Beauchemin return to practice after 2 days off @NHL

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -Anaheim defenseman Francois Beauchemin earned his days off as much as any of the Ducks - probably more.

Anaheim closed out its playoff series with the Minnesota Wild on Thursday in five games and won't play again to at least Wednesday. The Ducks took two days off before practicing Sunday.

Beauchemin cracked his jaw when he was hit in the face by a shot in Game 3 and sat out Game 4. He returned for Game 5 with a plate inserted in his jaw, and led the Ducks in ice time.

"I asked them right away when I could play," he said Sunday. "They told me not in Game 4 but I could probably play in Game 5. I was pretty excited about it."

Norris Trophy winners Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger get most of the attention, but Beauchemin has become a vital part of the Ducks' defense in his second season.

He scored two power-play goals in Game 2 of the opening series, played more minutes than Niedermayer in Game 1 and more than Pronger in Game 2.

The only game the Ducks lost to the Wild was the one Beauchemin didn't play.

"He's a guy that plays in all situations," Niedermayer said. "Everybody asks about Chris a lot, but (Beauchemin) is a guy who does the same type of things. He hasn't obviously been around as much, but he's out there on the power play, he's physical, he skates well and kills penalties. He's contributing in all areas."

Ducks coach Randy Carlyle wasn't surprised Beauchemin played with a plate in his jaw.

"That's typical of NHL hockey players, as long as he could feel comfortable with the shield and he wasn't in a position of vulnerability, 99.9 percent of them would play," said Carlyle, who played 17 NHL seasons.

Ducks winger Brad May confirmed he called Kim Johnsson to apologize for punching the Minnesota defenseman in Game 4. Johnsson was unable to play in Game 5 and the NHL suspended May for three games.

"It was between the two of us, he's quite a gentleman and I respect his feelings," said May. "We had a conversation that was pleasant.

"My thing was that I didn't want to take away anyone's opportunity to play, and I apologized for taking his opportunity to play in Game 5 away."

As for the long layoff, Niedermayer said playing a short first-round series should help keep the Ducks fresh.

"If you plan to stay around in the playoffs for awhile you need a break at some point," said Niedermayer, who won the Stanley Cup three times with New Jersey. "You can't play six or seven games in every round and still be there at the end of the day. I don't think there have been too many teams that have done that."

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