BOSTON -- Chris Kelly and Daniel Paille spoke before and after Wednesday’s game about how deeply affected they were by the events of the Marathon Monday bombing, and showed it on the ice with their inspired play during the game.
The Bruins eventually fell to the Buffalo Sabres in a 3-2 shootout on a night when on-the-ice action was completely overshadowed by the bigger-than-a-hockey-game events. A handful of Bruins played with a whole different level of energy and passion, and Kelly and Paille led the way.
Both of Boston's goals involved the pair, and – more importantly – they involved the kind of dogged determination and gritty effort that Bruins Nation values above anything else.
On the first scoring play, Kelly was relentless on the boards and finally overpowered Christian Ehrhoff in the corner before slipping a pass to Paille in the slot for the goal. On the second, crisp passes from Andrew Ference on the left point and Paille working the left side of the net found Kelly perched in front of the net. He didn’t score on his first shot attempt, but the third-line center kept working and pressuring with the puck before finally lifting a shot over Ryan Miller for what should have been the game-winning goal. But a late third-period collapse wiped it away, marking the first time since the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals that the Bruins didn't win a game in which Kelly scored.
“We wanted to go out there and win that hockey game," said Kelly. "We wanted to give the city something to be happy about. We went out and battled hard. I’m not taking that away from the guys, but we really wanted to get the two points and hopefully put a smile on someone’s face. I’m pretty upset that we didn’t.”
Paille said before Wednesday’s game that “you shouldn’t be playing” if you couldn’t get up for the kind of emotional night the B's knew was in store. He and Kelly answered the call.
"It was nice to score," said Kelly, "but it’s such a small thing, especially on a night like tonight."
Both players were clearly moved by what they saw during the “Boston Strong” video tribute pregame with a montage of stirring, emotional photos from Monday’s Marathon bombings, and the chillingly moving National Anthem sung by all 18,000-plus people at TD Garden for Wednesday’s show of strength, pride and defiance in the face of the terrorist act.
“It’s an emotional thing, seeing that," said Kelly. "You do get a bit choked up. It is something that you’re trying to fight back some tears and you’re swallowing and it feels like you’ve got something in your throat. [It’s] something really special that they did and the anthem was incredible.”
Guys like Kelly and Paille have nothing to hang their heads about in the cathartic Wednesday night shootout loss to Buffalo because they played with the kind of strength and spirit that has “Boston Strong” written all over it.