BOSTON -- There couldn't have been many dry eyes in the building.
In typical Boston fashion, the Bruins held an emotional pregame ceremony to honor those victims of Monday's Marathon bombings. Once the Bruins took to the ice, the 17,565 fans in attendance gave this city's hockey team a standing ovation. The arena became silent as a "Boston Strong" themed video (link HERE) played on the Garden video board, accompanied by the song "Home" by Philip Philips, honoring the first responders with a montage of pictures.
The video concluded with a written message: "We are Boston. We are Strong. Boston strong." Then, surrounded by the Boston Fire Color Guard, local icon Rene Rancourt began to sing national anthem. Only a few words in, he motioned to the fans to start singing. The noise was incredible. (Videos of both "Boston Strong" and the national anthem can be viewed on the Bruins' official website).
"Going out there was emotional," said Boston firefighter David Blaides, the commander of the guard. "It was very emotional. Experiencing what we did the last couple of days, to be able to go out there and get the energy from the crowd, I can't even compare it to going into a fire building because it didn't involve us directly. It definitely involved the community of Boston, and a lot of the family that's injured. Our hearts definitely go out to them.
"Being out here today, the energy from the crowd, it's as though your tears turn into joy. It was fulfilling being out there today."
Throughout the game, the Bruins continued to honor the victims.
During the second intermission, a special B-Spoked Salute will honor the first responders.
Bruins forward Brad Marchand also raffled off his own TD Garden suite for the team's first home playoff game, with all proceeds to benefit the Richard family of Dorchester, whose 8-year-old son, Martin, died in Monday's bombings.
"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," Marchand said. "This is just one small gesture which I hope can help the Richard family during this incredibly sad time for them. What they are going through is unimaginable and we will try to assist them in any way we can."
Security was tightened in and around North Station and TD Garden prior to the game. In the morning, vehicles entering the North Station garage were examined, using mirrors to look underneath. In the afternoon building personnel were removing the recycle and trash bins from Causeway Street and around TD Garden. Bomb-sniffing dogs were brought in to inspect the building.
Once the puck dropped, the Bruins quickly took a 1-0 lead on Daniel Daniel Paille's goal and the crowd erupted.