Before the sixth match of the Stanley Cup final series, Tampa Bay head coach John Cooper made a gift to the Russian fans.
He unexpectedly released 23-year-old striker Alexander Volkov to the rollout, who, before the outbreak of the pandemic, had only nine matches in the NHL regular season and was marked with only one assist.
But Cooper was satisfied with the form of the striker and included him in the composition, releasing him on the ice in the second minute.
Thus, if Lightning wins, Volkov could have won the Stanley Cup on an equal footing with Andrei Vasilevsky, Nikita Kucherov and Mikhail Sergachev, and for the first time since 1998, seven Russian hockey players played in the playoff final.
The Dallas Stars still included Anton Khudobin, Alexander Radulov and Denis Guryanov, who had to compare the score in the series in order to hope for a successful end to the season.
Both teams realized the importance of the match and started it with extreme caution.
Before the removal of Andrew Colliano in the seventh minute, who gave the majority to Tampa, the hockey players made only three shots, and Alexander Radulov missed from an excellent position, after which he fell under the power trick of Zak Bogosyan.
The calm start of the match put the Tampa players to sleep so much that they never bothered Khudobin for two minutes of the majority.
But soon the Florida team got a second chance to open an account.
Volkov justified Cooper's trust by forcing John Klingberg to foul on himself.
Already 25 seconds later, after Nikita Kucherov's transfer, Braden Point threw and finished off the puck himself.
For the Canadian, this goal was the 14th in the current Stanley Cup, and the Russian forward gave his 27th pass.
Kucherov became only the third player in history after Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, who managed so often in one playoff to bring partners into position for an assist shot.
With 34 points on performance, he also became the top scorer of the current Stanley Cup, one point ahead of Point.
The missed puck failed to cheer Dallas up.
For the entire first period, the Stars' players made only four shots at Vasilevsky's goal.
After the break, their sight did not improve (four more shots per period), and in the 28th minute of the match, Radulov's mistake when transferring to the middle zone led to an interception and an instant counterattack.
Blake Coleman seized the opportunity to score 2-0 for Tampa.
In the third period, Rick Bowness's wards still began to make attempts to win the tenth strong-willed victory in the current playoffs and put pressure on Vasilevsky, but the Tampa goalkeeper was reliable every time.
It was not the Dallas leaders who worried him, but the players who are usually on the sidelines in the team.
Veterans Corey Perry and Joe Pavelski, who won the previous match, did not take the initiative either.
For four with Radulov and Jamie Benn, they made only four shots - too few for such an important game in their career.
As a result, Vasilevsky made 22 saves and, for the first time in his career, made a cracker in the playoffs.
In total, in this Cup, he spent 1668 minutes and 12 seconds on the ice - now this is a new NHL record.
Moreover, if this achievement in theory can still be surpassed by someone in the future, then 18 victories of the Russian goalkeeper, two of which he won in the round-robin qualification of the playoffs, with a high degree of probability will never be repeated again - at least not yet the Stanley Cup format itself will change.
Khudobin, who made 27 saves, in contrast to Vasilevsky, failed to finish the match at the goal.
At the penultimate minute of the meeting, he gave way to the sixth field player, although he could have done it earlier, when Ryan McDonagh went to the penalty box.
But long-distance shots of "Dallas" did not bring results.
Tampa Bay won the Stanley Cup for the first time since 2004, and Dallas suffered their second defeat in the final - in 2000, the Texans lost to the New Jersey Devils.
Tampa player Victor Hedman was named the best player in the playoffs, who became the third-ever defender with ten goals in a single draw of the tournament.