When the Nashville Predators' team flight took off for Boston, defenseman Ryan McDonagh wasn't aboard.
He stayed home Monday, to be with his three young daughters in the shaken community.
A day after a fatal grade school shooting in Nashville left six dead, including three children, McDonagh caught a commercial flight. Hours after arriving, and with both teams wearing helmet stickers to remember the victims, he helped the Predators beat the Bruins 2-1 Tuesday night.
“It’s not really the first shooting, unfortunately. When you have kids and it happens close to home it hits definitely different,” McDonagh said. “Like any parent, you do anything you can to help your family and kids out.”
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McDonagh’s daughters — Falan, Murphy and Nola — are all under 9 years old.
“His daughter was close to the school -- their school was in lockdown,” coach John Hynes said.
Said McDonagh: “Quite frankly there are really no words that you can say after what went on yesterday in Nashville."
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“Just a tragedy for those families and everybody affected. You don’t really realize it until you have kids of your own and the perspective. It hits you," he said.
McDonagh said it wasn’t just another game as the Predators beat the NHL-leading Bruins.
“We felt like we needed to go out and do our job the best we could and sacrifice and leave it all out there and just try to maybe bring a little bit of inspiration to the city of Nashville,” McDonagh said.
Hynes spoke to his team about the situation.
“It's something we talked with our guys about, that we’re on a platform here as professional athletes and coaches,” he said. “The city of Nashville means a lot to these people. We wanted to put an effort for the first responders, for the people that were involved in the incident — the families, the school. We’re just really proud of the guys.”
The Predators and Bruins wore helmet stickers to show support for The Covenant School, where three 9-year-old students and three adult staffers were killed.
The Bruins also held a moment of silence before the national anthem.
“The Bruins stand alongside the Nashville Predators in solidarity against gun violence and its support of the Nashville community,” the PA announcer said.
Nashville is trying to make a run at the eighth and final playoff spot and won for just the third time in eight games.
Hynes talked to his team about the few hours of relief his team could bring to folks back home.
“We did talk to our guys about that,” he said. “Sometimes when things are tough in life — part of sports, it is for the players and people involved with it, but I think for the fans, that it’s an opportunity to take a few hours and maybe get away from a few things in your life. That was the message that we took into the game.”