1/24/97 -- 10:28 PM


HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Derek King notched his sixth career hat trick and Zigmund Palffy had two goals as the New York Islanders defeated the Hartford Whalers 5-2 Friday night in Rick Bowness' first game as head coach.

Bowness took over the bench duties earlier in the day when the Islanders announced a managerial shuffle. Mike Milbury, upon the urging of new owner John Spano, decided it would be best for the franchise if he concentrated on general manager duties and relinquish the bench job.

The Islanders won back-to-back games for the first time in a month.

King, who scored twice in the second period when the Islanders took control of the game, completed his three-goal night at 7:11 of the third period with a wrist shot from the right circle.

Palffy began the game's scoring for the Islanders and finished the scoring with his team-leading 29th goal into an empty net with 3:57 remaining. Travis Green had three assists for New York.

King, who raised his season goal total to 18, snapped a 1-1 tie at 7:12 of the second when he scored from the right post. At 16:29, King scored from the slot after Green won the faceoff.

Goaltender Eric Fichaud stopped 34 shots, allowing a breakaway by Hartford's Geoff Sanderson in the first period and a power-play goal by Steven Rice with 31 seconds left in the game.

The loss snapped a two-game winning streak for the Whalers, who have gone just 2-8-1 since Dec. 28. Hartford goaltender Sean Burke made 27.

The Islanders had opened the scoring at 12:27 on Palffy's first goal. Stopped by Burke from the right circle, Palffy continued to skate to the slot area where he intercepted Burke's clearing pass and beat the goaltender with a backhander.

After Sanderson's goal, New York regained the lead at 2-1 in the second period when King tapped in a feed from Green.

The win by the Islanders snapped an eight-game winless streak against the Whalers. The Islanders had been 0-6-2 dating back to March 14, 1995.

Sanderson's goal, his team-leading 25th, was his first in eight games.

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