What we learned from the Arizona Coyotes preseason game in Tucson

The Arizona Coyotes lost 3-2 in its sole preseason game in Arizona on Sunday against the Anaheim Ducks at the Tucson Convention Center Arena.

"I was hoping that we had won the game, but I love the way that the guys fought back in the game and scored one to have a tighter game at the end. That was good to be in front of our fans and our people, we look forward to coming back," Coyotes head coach André Tourigny said.

While it's the second game for the Coyotes in the preseason, it offered a glimpse into what the upcoming season will look like for the Coyotes.

Here is what we learned from the Coyotes preseason game against the Ducks.

Gritty identity confirmed

Throughout the Coyotes media day, general manager Bill Armstrong and Tourigny mentioned that this year's team would be gritty.

Sunday's group featured some of the grittiest players in last season's lineup with Lawson Crouse and Liam O'Brien. Both players were in the top three on the team in penalty minutes with O'Brien leading with 106 and Crouse was third with 52 minutes.

Factor in younger, hard-nosed players like centers Jack McBain and Conor Geekie, and the Coyotes are on track to deliver big hits and get under opponents' skin. Although new to the league, Geekie stuck up for his teammates and got tangled with Ducks defenseman Noah Warren in the first period.

"I think that's just part of our team DNA. That's who we want to be, we want to be hard to play against," O'Brien said.

If that wasn't enough, left winger Michael Carcone got into a tussle with Ducks left winger Max Jones that cost him six minutes in the penalty box. While on his way to the box, Carcone looked up at the crowd and beckoned cheering, a sight that will likely happen in the future for the Coyotes.

"Carcs did a great job, especially because he played here. It was great for him to pump the crowd, they know him pretty well," O'Brien said.

Offense has a lot to be done

Even though it's the second game of the preseason and top forwards Clayton Keller and Nick Schmaltz weren't among the group in Tucson, the Coyotes had a good lineup with Crouse and defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere in the mix.

The Coyotes were on solid footing in the first period, pressuring the Ducks in its zone and displaying a great response on the penalty kill. However, the effort slowly fell apart as the Ducks caught up in the shot differentials and found the back of the net in the process.

"We started really strong and had a good first period, the second and third we were not in sync. I think for whatever reason, we were not winning enough battles," Tourigny said. "At the end of the day, all those guys fight for a job and fight for an improved role or a job in the NHL."

Scoring chances came and went in the game. Crouse, a 20-goal scorer, missed a rebound opportunity that would've tied the score in the second period. New center Nick Bjugstad had a short-handed breakaway opportunity during the first period, but was late to get a good shot on the net.

O'Brien possessed an energetic start with a goal off a one-timer from the left faceoff circle at 7:13 in the first period, but the offense couldn't rally after. O'Brien even earned a penalty shot during the second period, but couldn't find puck luck against Lukas Dostal again.

The duality of special teams

Given the gritty nature of the team, the penalty kill unit will likely get some solid minutes this season. Luckily for the Coyotes, the unit possessed a promising look with Josh Brown, Christian Fischer, Vladislav Kolyachonok, and Bjugstad getting time together.

Newly-signed defenseman Brown is expected to be a key piece on the Coyotes' blue line and helped stave off two power plays from the Ducks. The first penalty kill even saw the Ducks only managing one shot after some heavy pressure from the Coyotes.

The power play didn't see much action in the game, but wasn't much different from last season. The Coyotes were ranked 30th out of 32 teams, which means that there's plenty of room for improvement.

Reach the reporter at jenna.ortiz@arizonarepublic.com or 602-647-4122. Follow her on Twitter @jennarortiz.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: NHL: Three takeaways from the Coyotes preseason game in Tucson