BOSTON — ‘Boston Strong’ took on two different meanings yesterday afternoon.
The playoff-bound Bruins were too strong for the injury-decimated, NHL-cellar dwelling Panthers in a hard-fought 3-0 loss at a sold-out TD Garden that mercifully ended one of the worst road trips in franchise history.
But far more significant than the Panthers’ second six-game losing streak of the season were the “Boston Strong” reminders of solidarity throughout the game of how a heartbroken, yet resilient city, country and on-ice rivals came together to honor the victims and heroes of this week’s terrorist atttacks at the Boston Marathon.
Panthers backup goalie Scott Clemmensen, who played four seasons of hockey at Boston College, wore a different law enforcement hat every period to pay tribute to the first responders.
“To show support,” Clemmensen said. “I love this city. I had friends who were here, so it was very surreal. When we got in Saturday it was good to see the sun shine and people in the park to return to some type of normalcy. And the fact they’re not going to let something like that scare them.”
The coaches, including goalie coach Robb Tallas and defensive coach Gord Murphy, who both played for the Bruins, wore commemorative ribbons on their suit jackets. Boston native Mike Santos, the Panthers assistant general manager, was happy to catch up with several family members who live in Boston at the game.
The heartiest applause was reserved for the scoreboard video shots of military and police personnel in the stands, and again after the game when Bruins players gave their jerseys to several first responders that elicited chants of U-S-A!
The Panthers all placed “Boston Strong” stickers on their helmets and skate blades. They bought “Boston Strong” hats and T-shirts with the American flag across it, with all the proceeds going to the family of the gap-toothed, 8-year-old Martin Richard, who was killed on Monday.