There is no easy, quick cure for a city’s fractured soul. There are only first steps toward familiarity, the awkward and hesitant inching toward a renewed normalcy, a reclaimed sense of safety, security, home.

With sorrow, terror, and a festering defiance tugging at our town, TD Garden swung open its doors Wednesday night to the Bruins and Sabres, the first massive public gathering in Boston since Monday’s horrific, murderous bombings at the Boston Marathon finish line.

It was a night to remember, a hope to hold dear, only some 48 hours after the afternoon we all wish could be chased from memory.

“You try and live your life in peace,’’ said Bruins coach Claude Julien, summing up what so many of us are thinking, “and there’s people that are trying to disrupt that. And the people that are trying to live their life in peace are all going to stick together. And that’s what we have here.’’

The sellout crowd of 17,565 streamed into the building beginning at 6 p.m., the start of an expanded 90-minute window that allowed security guards to process everyone through the wickets. With the Garden PA system blasting U2’s “Beautiful Day,’’ they rushed in, smiling, carrying homemade signs, and unfurling American flags.

The evening fast developed as one part hockey game and equal part city statement of patriotism and pride.

“BOSTON’’ read one sign in the front row of the upper bowl, directly behind the net the Bruins defended in the first and third periods. “Beacon Of Strength That Overcomes Negativity.’’

‘’When I was leaving the house,’’ said Lynnfield resident Bill Glowik, sitting in the upper bowl with 15-year-old son Zachary a half-hour before puck drop, “my wife said to me, ‘Are you sure it’s a good idea going there tonight? Do you really think it’s safe?’ I said, yeah, I’m sure. I think the Garden is the safest place in the world we could be tonight.’’

By 7:33 p.m., the Bruins raced on to the ice. House lights, normally turned full up for their entrance, instead were dialed back nightclub dim as PA announcer Jim Martin said, “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome your Boston Bruins.’’

The greeting, though boisterous, was not overwhelming, not thunderous, not old Garden shake-the-house-down level. A couple of minutes later, Martin asked the crowd to “pause and reflect’’ and there was a respectful cheer for Monday’s first responders before the house fell pindrop silent.

And from the far west end of the upper bowl, a fan broke the silence by bellowing, “America!’’

Moments later, the large videoboard over center ice began to flip through still photographs of Monday’s unspeakable torment. Many were the pictures that by now have been seared into our memory, stitched with digital catgut into our sorrow. Vivid pixels of pain and bravery, anguish and courage, the silent frame-by-frame documentary of the senseless and the helplessness.

“The whole time, we were fighting back tears,” said Boston winger Brad Marchand, back after missing a week because of a concussion. “It was tough to stay focused on the game.”

While the shots popped on the screen, “Home,’’ by recording artist Phillip Phillips, piped through the PA.

“Don’t pay no mind to the demons . . . they fill you with fear.’’

The pictures stopped. The fear cut short.

Hope followed.

“We Are Boston,’’ read the words on the big electronic board. “We Are Strong.’’