If you believe the
cliche proverb that the enemy of one's enemy is their friend, then getting under the skin of someone else's rival is a good way to make friends.
That's what former Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon did Sunday in his third game with the Washington Capitals. The Caps won for the first time with the 29-year-old in the lineup at Capital One Center, beating Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the rival Pittsburgh Penguins 5-3.
Washington has a Stanley Cup, but Pittsburgh provided plenty of heartbreak in the nation's capital over the years. Those who rock the red won't forget that any time soon, and Dillon inserted himself right in the middle of the rivalry by
fighting tussling and picking up matching double-minor roughing penalties with Malkin on Sunday.
That's one way to win the hearts of Caps fans, Dillon pic.twitter.com/hxj6vIWnRL— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) February 23, 2020
Dillon won over his fellow foot-soldiers in Alex Ovechkin's proxy war with fellow former No. 1 pick Crosby, too, earning the Washington Nationals helmet the Capitals give to honor the player of the game.
Dilly dilly gets his first Nats cap! pic.twitter.com/K5NC9GZ89F— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) February 23, 2020
"I thought he had a really strong game," coach Todd Reirden said Sunday (via NBC Sports Washington). "We've been kind of easing him into it, his minutes weren't as high as we would've liked yesterday and then today I thought it was really noticeable, his play. Just settles things down and obviously penalty kill, using him more in that situation today. You could see his experience and then, when he has a chance to play against the other team's top players, he's not going to be fun to play against."
Dillon and the Capitals will have plenty of chances to renew pleasantries with Malkin and the Penguins. Washington plays Pittsburgh twice more during the regular season, and the Metropolitan Division foes once again appear to be on a collision course in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The NHL postseason's divisional format practically necessitates a Capitals-Penguins matchup, and they surely will meet again in the second round this spring. Dillon played in epic series against the Vegas Golden Knights each of the last two postseasons, and he seems well-prepared for a seven-game tilt with Crosby, Malkin and Co.