The Boston Bruins and TD Garden on Saturday welcomed back an almost-full crowd to cheer them on in Game 1 of their Stanley Cup Playoffs series.
And in a win over the New York Islanders, those spectators made their presence known from the moment they were allowed in the building.
After the victory, David Pastrnak described what it was like to take the ice for warmups, with 22 players staring at the stands in awe as if it were their first NHL game. But following practice Sunday, defenseman Connor Clifton shared his excitement to see fans began even before that.
“We heard them when they started getting in the building,” Clifton told reporters, via the team. “We were playing some soccer under this stairwell and we heard them coming in and they were great. But coming out for warmups was, you know, it’s why we play the game. We miss them a lot and last night was unbelievable.”
It was Curtis Lazar’s first time playing in front of that many fans in a playoff environment at TD Garden. And after stops in Ottawa, Calgary and Buffalo, the 26-year-old said it was like nothing he’s ever experienced.
“It was absolutely incredible, you know, just to have the building rocking full,” Lazar told reporters, via the team. “And to have a little bit of freedom, it’s great, but to have support of the Bruins fans, I mean I’ve never experienced anything like that before. There’s nothing more exciting for myself than when I go on forecheck, hit a guy, hear the fans roar and appreciate it and and stuff like that. The fans, they help us out, they’re gonna be a big factor in the series and they definitely were last night.”
And if Lazar didn’t quite understand the impact before the game as fans rolled into the arena, he did taking the ice for pregame ceremonies.
That feeling carried the team to an exciting 5-2 win.
“Listening to the anthem there, you get the chills and the goosebumps to hearing in the crowd get into it and knowing that it’s our house, and it’s gonna take a lot for another team to come in there and take the win away from us,” Lazar said. “So again, they they backed us every step of the way and I thought we put on quite the show for him too.”
Bruins-Islanders Game 2 is scheduled for Monday.