Top-flight sport made an emotional return to Boston on Wednesday as the NHL's Bruins paid tribute to the heroes and victims of the twin bombing that killed three in the US city on Monday, AFP reports.
The Bruins honored those killed and injured by the bombs that wreaked havoc at the finish line of the Boston marathon with a moment of silence before their home game against the Buffalo Sabres.
"We are Boston. We are Strong. Boston Strong," was the message accompanying a video tribute to the emergency personnel who aided the wounded.
Rene Rancourt, who has sung the national anthem at Bruins games for more than 30 years, urged the crowd to take over, and the 17,565 in attendance at TD Garden delivered a moving rendition.
The Bruins had been scheduled to host the Ottawa Senators on Monday night, but that game was postponed until April 28 in the aftermath of the attack.
The NBA, whose regular season ended on Wednesday, cancelled the Boston Celtics' home game against Indiana at the same TD Garden on Tuesday, and Wednesday's first major sports event in the shocked city was enveloped in tight security.
Emotional tributes had already been held for the dead, who included eight-year-old boy Martin Richard, restaurant manager Krystle Campbell and Lu Lingzi, a Chinese graduate student at Boston University. Another 180 people were injured in the blasts.
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said he hoped the team could return some joy to the people of Boston.
"We just have to support each other and obviously send our support to friends, family and everybody affected," Chara said. "I think we all can play for each other and, in this tough time, make the people cheer. The way we play, we can show the support."
The Bruins couldn't quite deliver a win for their fans to celebrate, falling to the Sabres 3-2 in a shootout. However, the one point they gained for a shootout defeat was enough to secure Boston's berth in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
After Buffalo's Drew Stafford fired the winning shot, both teams took the ice and raised their sticks to the crowd in one more salute.