After respectfully observing a pregame moment of silence to honor the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings, Bruins fans last night showed their defiance by loudly singing the national anthem before chanting “U-S-A” as sports returned to the city.
Last night’s National Hockey League game against the Buffalo Sabres at TD Garden in Boston was preceded by a slideshow of images from the marathon, where three people died and more than 175 were injured by two explosions near the finish line. Players from both teams banged their sticks on the ice as the slideshow concluded with the words: “We Are Boston. We Are Strong.”
“There’s no secret it’s been pretty sad the last few days,” said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, whose helmet was adorned with a decal in the colors of the Boston Athletic Association, which hosts the marathon. “We want to show support, and the best way to show is to play well.”
The Bruins lost 3-2 in a shootout, earning the point they needed to lock in a playoff berth. Boston (26-11-5) moved up to second in the Eastern Conference with 57 points after the Montreal Canadiens (26-12-5), also with 57 points, lost 6-4 to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
After the bombing on April 15, that night’s Bruins game was postponed and the Boston Celtics’ National Basketball Association contest the following night at TD Garden was canceled.
Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs pledged $100,000 to The One Fund Boston, established to help families affected by the bombings, while TD Garden, the league and the NHL Players’ Association each added $50,000.
“Our family has been touched by the heroic moments of so many individuals and the strength and resiliency of this community to stand together in solidarity in support of those who were injured and those who lost their lives in this unimaginable tragedy,” Jacobs said on the team’s website.
Extra police ringed the arena as fans entered TD Garden, about 1 1/2 miles (2.5 kilometers) from the blast area. Fans walked past a statue of Bobby Orr that was adorned with a Bruins T-shirt bearing a No. 8 below the name Martin Richard, the 8-year-old Bruins fan killed in the attacks.
Bruins center Brad Marchand raffled his suite for the team’s first home playoff game to benefit the Richard family.
“Our whole team saw the photos of Martin at our game from last Thursday and learned that he and his family are big fans of ours,” said Marchand. “What they are going through is unimaginable and we will try to assist them in any way we can.”
Among those attending last night’s game were 80 police, firefighters and emergency medical personnel who responded to the disaster. Their tickets were donated by the team and staff.
“I am very proud of our entire organization for the compassion and support they have all showed, although not surprised,” said Bruins President Cam Neely. “We are all ‘Boston Strong.’”
In Toronto, the Boston Celtics returned to the court for their regular season-ending game as Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” a tradition at Boston Red Sox games, played over the loudspeakers at Air Canada Centre, home of the Raptors.
The Celtics, wearing black stripes, and the Raptors gathered at midcourt for a moment of silence before the game.
Boston (41-40) lost 114-90 to the Raptors (34-48).