Wednesday night's game between the Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres, the first sporting event held in Boston since Monday's bombing, was expected to be intensely emotional.

It did not disappoint.

With yellow and blue ribbons projected on the ice before the game, the Bruins' longtime singer, Rene Rancourt, launched into the national anthem. But after a few bars, he lowered his microphone, and the nearly 18,000 fans packed into TD Garden took it from there.

As the anthem died down, the arena broke into spontaneous chants of "USA! USA!" All of that before the first puck even dropped.