LANDOVER -- Dino Ciccarelli was back, and all was right with the world at the Capital Centre last night.
Mike Ridley scored two short-handed goals on the way to a hat trick, as the Washington Capitals rediscovered their winning touch at home with a 5-2 victory over New Jersey, moving into a third-place tie with the Devils in the Patrick Division.
Ciccarelli, who missed 21 games with a broken right thumb, tied the game at 1 with 6 minutes, 8 seconds gone in the second period. He made a nifty move, deflecting a slap shot by defenseman Mikhail Tatarinov into the net, bringing the crowd of to its feet.
The goal, Ciccarelli's second of the season, ignited Washington to its third straight victory and seventh in the past 10 games.
Ridley, who had six goals entering the game, made some nearly unbelievable plays and became only the third Capitals player in history to score two short-handed goals in one game.
Dave Christian and Mike Gartner were the other Washington players to score two in one game on man-down situations.
Gartner was the last to do it for the Caps, against the Vancouver Canucks in 1987.
Ridley began his spree at 17:18 of the second period when he won the puck beyond the blue line and skated one-on-one to beat Devils goalie Sean Burke for his first man-down goal, giving the Capitals a 3-1 lead.
Ridley's second short-handed goal was even more exciting. He took the puck straight toward Burke and fired two shots that were rejected by the goalie. The second shot bounced behind the net, and Ridley stayed with the puck to score for a 4-2 lead at 9:47 of the third period.
Then, with three minutes left in the game, Ridley took a pass in the right circle from Tatarinov and sent the puck into the net for a power-play goal that boosted the lead to 5-2.
"Dino was the one who made things go for us," Ridley said. "Any time you have a 40-goal scorer out of the lineup as long as he was, you're going to miss him. He came in and picked us up. Hopefully, he'll get even better the more he plays."
It will be hard for Ciccarelli to top Ridley's show, however.
Capitals coach Terry Murray said: "Ridley's two short-handed goals were tremendous. I can't really think of any better words to describe them. He held the puck and walked right in for his second short-handed goal."
Murray said he was especially glad to see Ridley break loose after battling the flu for several weeks.
Murray also praised Ciccarelli, saying: "I was real happy to have him back. He made a strong play for the goal. It was a good way for him to get back in there."
Murray said he was concerned about the Capitals' play before Ciccarelli scored.
"We weren't very good in the first half of the game," the coach said. "Our zone coverage broke down, we let them walk in for a goal and we had a lot of other breakdowns. We can't afford to wait around for a power play, a lucky bounce or a big play from our goaltender to get us going. We have to play well from the start."