A one-goal game — that's usually a given for the Coyotes.

Some sloppy play left as residue from a four-month lockout layoff? OK, that's allowed.

But uncharacteristic defensive breakdowns? That's unexpected, even more so considering the miscues spoiled a standout offensive effort by Radim Vrbata in a 4-3 loss to the Stars in the season opener in front of 18,532 at American Airlines Center.

"Our puck management in our own zone wasn't very good," coach Dave Tippett said. "We gave away a couple of easy goals. If you do that, it's going to be hard to win in this league."

Last season's deficiencies were no doubt examined in a lengthy off-season prolonged by the labor dispute. To see progress in one of those areas — the offense scored two power-play goals after being ranked 29th last season — this quickly, that's encouraging.

Vrbata looked every bit the playmaker and goal scorer that the Coyotes need him to be, and by having a hand in all three goals, he quieted concern that he wouldn't be able to deliver a suitable encore to a 35-goal campaign without Ray Whitney, who signed with Dallas as a free agent in the off-season.

"My skating was getting better and creating some chances," Vrbata said. "We scored some goals, so I felt fine."

But if the Coyotes' defensive woes didn't upstage Vrbata's effort, Jaromir Jagr certainly did. The 40-year-old scored two goals and added a pair of assists in his debut with the Stars after signing in the summer as a free agent.