UNIONDALE, N.Y. — It's finally over.
The Kings, off to an awful start this season, ended their losing streak at five games with a stunning 3-2 win over the New York Islanders Tuesday night before 14,855 fans at the Nassau Coliseum.
It was the first time the Kings had won on Islander ice since a 9-6 victory on Oct. 20, 1981. The Kings were 1-8-1 overall in their last 10 games against the Islanders, including five straight losses in New York and a 5-4 overtime defeat this season at the Forum.
Defenseman Garry Galley broke a 2-2 tie when he scored an unassisted goal at 4:28 of the third period. Galley intercepted Denis Potvin's clearing pass and deflected a shot into the net off the stick of Islander rookie left wing Mikko Makela. The puck changed direction after hitting Makela and went through the legs of goalie Billy Smith.
"I wasn't trying to score," Galley said. "I was just standing there when the puck came to me. I was just trying to put a shot on the net and let one of our forwards deflect it into the net.
"I just happened to be the guy who got the lucky shot. It was a big break. We needed this win really badly. It was like a 100-pound weight was lifted off our shoulders."
In the first period, Galley had been on the wrong end of a similar goal when he inadvertently deflected a shot by Islander left wing John Tonelli into the net. That goal, Tonelli's second of the game, gave the Islanders a 2-1 lead just 13 seconds after King left wing Brian MacLellan had scored.
Tonelli scored the game's opening goal at 12:30 of the first period. On his second goal, his shot from the right point hit the stick of King goalie Darren Eliot and went into the net off Galley, who was off to the side.
"It went in off Eliot's stick and hit me in the glove and went into the net," Galley said. "I got down a bit on myself, but the team sparked me up."
Islander Coach Al Arbour was angry with his team's performance. The loss snapped a 3-0-1 unbeaten streak for the Islanders, who are 4-2-1 overall this season.
"We played a desperate hockey club," Arbour said. "They outworked us and they outhit us.
"I think we'll get our team fitted with ballet tights so we can tip-toe around out there. That's all I have to say."
Said Tonelli, who stands 6 feet 1 inches and weighs 197 pounds: "I think I'll need an extra large pair of tights."
It was a big win for the Kings, who had a 1-8 record coming into the game. And it came exactly one year to the day that the Kings won their first game last season after an 0-6-3 start.
"This one was a long time coming," King Coach Pat Quinn said. "Our guys put three hard-working periods together with a little brains. Obviously, it was our best game of the season. We needed this for our pride.
"When we had a bad start last year, the circumstances were different. This year it was a combination of lack of preparation and maybe I didn't have the team ready to play in training camp. We lost confidence quickly."
King goalie Eliot, 0-5 coming in, played his best game of the season, making several spectacular saves to shut out the Islanders in the second and third periods. Eliot made 23 saves, including seven in the third period when the Islanders were trying to tie the game.
"It felt great to win a game," Eliot said. "We've been struggling and we really needed a game like this. We couldn't go much longer testing the patience of the coach and general manager. This was long overdue."
The Islanders had a chance to tie when King defenseman Rick LaPointe got a two-minute penalty for holding Makela at 7:38 of the third period. But the Kings killed the penalty, allowing the Islanders just two shots on the power play.
The Islanders had started fast with Tonelli's first goal in the first period off a pass from Bryan Trottier. But MacLellan scored on a power play with 1:43 left in the period. Marcel Dionne and Bernie Nicholls assisted on the play.
It was the first power-play goal for the Kings in their last 18 chances over a five-game span. The Kings are 6-52 on the power play this season, with MacLellan scoring four of the goals.
"Marcel took the shot, and it hit one of their defensemen and went to Bernie at the right side of the net," MacLellan said, describing his latest goal. "Smith overplayed Bernie, and Bernie slid it to me.
"Tonight was the first time that we have played 60 minutes of consistent hockey."
After Tonelli's second goal, King captain Dave Taylor tied the score at 2-2 at 6:01 of the second period when he skated around the cage and slid a shot into the far corner of the net. There were two defenders around, but no one picked up Taylor. Phil Sykes and LaPointe assisted on the play.
Smith said he made a mistake on Taylor's goal.
"I tried to cover on both side of the net and I couldn't," the Islander goalie said. "It was a desperation play on their part. I didn't play very good. There are no excuses."
Garry Galley is the Kings' leading scorer with 5 goals in 10 games this season. He had 8 goals in 78 games last season. . . . Islander left wing Clark Gillies suffered bruised ribs on his right side in the second period when he was checked by King left wing Dave (Tiger) Williams. He missed the rest of the game.