Through three periods, five minutes of overtime and a shootout, the Bruins and Buffalo Sabres rattled each other into the glass at TD Bank Garden in Boston.
Before and after the National Hockey League game on Wednesday night, they stood together to help heal a city still reeling from the Boston Marathon bombings.
That Buffalo goes home with a 3-2 win seemed almost secondary. Almost.
“We feel for the city of Boston and the people involved,” Sabres forward Cody Hodgson told USA Today. “It affects everybody.”
Fans from both teams arrived at the arena draped in American flags or carrying signs paying tribute to the city.
The crowd didn’t even need anthem singer Rene Rancourt to get them prepared; supporters sang so loud that Rancourt just lowered his mike and stood alongside his Boston Fire Department Honor Guard.
Projected blue and yellow ribbons appeared on the ice, dotted the crowd and appeared on players’ helmets.
It was the first large-scale public event since Monday’s bombings that killed three and injured hundreds.
The Bruins, TD Garden, NHL and NHL Players Association raised $250,000 in donations.
After the Sabres tied the game with less than 30 seconds to play, then won in the shootout, players from both teams gathered at center ice and raised their sticks in the air to salute the city.
“Everyone wants to give people a positive feeling walking out of the rink,” Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference told the Boston Herald.
“Everyone knows this was bigger than the result of the game and I think it was positive in the sense that we had people cheering and had them out and about, having a good time. But a good, solid win, we wanted it so bad.”