Bruins welcome hockey, healing

Mike Shalin, The Sports Xchange

BOSTON -- The Bruins were more than ready to do their part in the healing process of their city on a night when clinching a postseason berth was a subplot.

"The one thing I sense from our team is we have the ability to maybe help people heal and find some reason to smile again by representing our city properly," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "To me, this is a time when you're proud to be associated with a professional team. When you look at the support this city's had from rivals that are giving us support at this time, it's amazing. We have an opportunity to make our city proud and we're all in for it and hopefully we can do that for our city right now."

The Sabres were well aware of what they could be in for on the emotional night. Some of the Buffalo players used Tuesday to walk down to the section of the Boston Marathon route where two homemade explosive devices created mass carnage, killing three and injuring more than 180.

"To go down there and see everything ... it sends a sick feeling in your stomach, knowing what happened there and the people that were injured, and also for the families who go through the tragedy," said 25-year-old Sabres center Nathan Gerbe, a Boston College product. "It's terrible and we always send our prayers. Just to see it, it's something else."

Players and coaches said they will do everything they can to help in the healing process. Brad Marchand is raffling off his TD Garden suite for the first playoff game, and the money going to the Richard family, which is coping with the death of 8-year-old Martin, one of the three marathon observers killed by the bomb blasts.

Security was elevated indoors and out, with additional guards and measures in place. Media went through metal detection and some cars were searched, but there was no outward frustration from fans eager for any diversion from Monday's tragedy.

"The best thing we can do," Julien said, "is make things better for the people of Boston. Sports, it's a great way to pull people together."

NOTES: Both teams wore "Boston Strong" decals on their jerseys, while Bruins players donated 80 tickets to first responders. The Bruins also announced a $250,000 donation partnership that includes the NHL and the Players Association. ... Anthem singer Rene Rancourt led the raucous crowd in singing the Star Spangled Banner -- after a video tribute to the response of the city to Monday's tragedy. ... The Bruins game with Ottawa that was postponed Monday will be made up April 28, a day after the regular season actually ends.