Just two nights after the horrific bombing that took place at the finish line of the Boston Marathon Monday afternoon, the Boston Bruins welcomed the Buffalo Sabres into the TD Garden for the first public event held in the city since the tragedy. The game seemed almost secondary as it served as the venue for an emotional tribute and rememberance of the victims, and really, the entire city of Boston in the wake of the attack.
After an emotional pregame ceremony capped off with a rendition of the United States national anthem sung in unison by the entire crowd on hand at the Garden, the B's looked to ride the momentum of their home crowd and their city to a win and into first place in the Northeast Division. Ryan Miller and the visiting Sabres had other ideas, however, snatching the W away from the home side in almost cruel fashion with a late game tying goal and shootout victory, for the 3-2 decision.
Seemingly fueled by the pregame ceremonies, Boston jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead when Chris Kelly found Dan Paille in the slot before Paille slipped a wrist shot by Ryan Miller. After that though, the black and gold seemed to fall flat and the Sabres took control of play. Thomas Vanke knotted the game at 1 a piece going into the first intermission, and the visitors continued their dominance for a good portion of the second period as well. Spaked by some physical play from hated Sabre Patrick Kaleta, the B's finally seemed to regain their composure and repond.
Kelly gave Boston the lead once again late in the second, and it seemed like the Bruins were going to give Boston a needed emotional lift after a tough couple of days. A late 6-4 advantage for Buffalo, however, would result in Cody Hodgson redirecting a Vanek pass by Bruins goalie Anton Khudobin to force overtime before Buffalo would take the 3-2 decision in a shoot out.
Despite the disappointing result, there are plenty of silver linings to be found in tonight's game. From the amazing national anthem, to the constant chants of "We love Boston" raining down from the crowd, for three hours the black and gold gave the city of Boston a reason to turn their attentions away from coverage of the Marathon bombing. For a little while, all seemed to be normal in Boston once again. And even though they could not come away with a win, the single point garnered in the game clinched the Bruins 6th straight playoff appearance and has put them back on top of the Division thanks to a Montreal loss in Pittsburgh.
Capping off an emotional night, both teams gathered at center ice to salute the Garden faithful one last time and were rewarded with a well-deserved standing ovation. It's always amazing when sporting events have the ability to ease the pain of a sometimes-cruel world.