Despite pulling Anton Khudobin for the final 20 minutes of the Dallas Stars' 3-0 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final on Tuesday night, Rick Bowness says his veteran goaltender isn't at fault for the defeat.
"Oh gosh, not at all," the Stars head coach told the assembled media, including Fox Sports Southwest, postgame. "We (gave him) a breather."
"Anton was the only reason it was 3-0," Bowness added. "Without Anton, (it's) 6-0 after the second period."
The Golden Knights outshot the Stars 27-12 through two periods, including a 19-7 edge in the middle stanza.
Khudobin stopped 24 of those 27 shots, but Bowness gave him the rest of the night off with Dallas trailing 3-0 in the second intermission. Jake Oettinger made his NHL debut in relief, recording five saves on as many shots over the final 20 minutes.
The Stars have ridden Khudobin in these playoffs. Including Tuesday's game, the 34-year-old has played 16 of Dallas' 18 postseason contests, starting 15 of them. He was 9-5 with a .914 save percentage in the 2019-20 playoffs entering Game 2.
Golden Knights netminder Robin Lehner made 24 saves for his second straight shutout and the fourth clean sheet in his last seven games.
Game 3 of the series - which is now tied at one win apiece - is scheduled for Thursday at 8 p.m. ET.