The Bruins, savoring their 2-0 Stanley Cup semifinal advantage over the Philadelphia Flyers, are back in Boston, where folks are more appreciative of the unrefined talents of Joseph James Terence O'Reilly.
It was O'Reilly who ended the longest hockey game in the history of Philadephia's Spectrum early this morning, and in the most aggravating manner possible for the fans who remained, their bleary eyes kept focused by management's free coffee.
When O'Reilly jammed the puck between the legs of goalie Wayne Stephenson for a 5-4 Boston victory after 30 minutes 7 seconds of overtime, he was guaranteeing a miserable day for English students at suburban Council Rock High School, among others.
In the second period, O'Reilly turned on a heckler behind the Bruins' bench and gave her an unexpected bath. The fan was Carol Kessler, a Council. Rock English teacher, who complained to the Philadephia Daily News, "He squirted me with Gatorade. My blouse is soaked. It went all the way through to my bra."
That was just one of many insults visited on the Flyers by O'Reilly, who began the longest night by decking Joe Watson, Paul Holmgren and Watson again before being escorted to the penalty box. In the first overtime, O'Reilly leaped on Moose Dupont, knocking that favourite of Philadelphia animal fanciers to the ice, and mass rage followed the absence of retribution.
Then, when it seemed the battle would never end, there came the ultimate degradation, right wing O'Reilly replacing weary Bobby Schmautz for an extra 30-second shift, taking Don Marcotte's pass from behind the net and shoving it through Stephenson's legs to end the NHL's longest game asince 1971.
A brief postgame interview for Boston television was quickly terminated, as fans aroused from the disvelief of defeat showered epithets and debris on O'Reilly. Then the anti-hero sat in a Boston clubhouse permeated more by relief than jubilation and talked of his night's work. He mentioned Carol Kessler, too.
"The coach was giving instructions and she kept yelling," O'Reilly said. "She wasn't cheering, she was interfering with the game. I shouldn't have done it, but it's something I've always wanted to do. I think it was funny, but I've got a morbid sense of humor."
So do some of the Flyer's fans.
The Bruins appreciate their hardworking quarter man, though. Wayne Cashman, a tireless digger himself, said. "There couldn't be a greater guy to score the winner. He's a guy who symbolizes what this team is all about. Hard work and dedication. What did he throw, 250 body checks? Double overtime and he's still taking the body."
That was no surpise to Harry Sinden, the Bruins' general manager. Sinden, angered by some midseason floating by his charges, personally recorded hits, or solid checks, during a game at Cleveland. He could count only 10 during the night - nine were by O'Reilly.