The People’s Line: Nic Dowd, Carl Hagelin And Garnet Hathaway Lead Capitals To Two Key Road Victories

Photo: NHL via Getty Images

They don’t make the big paychecks or demand much attention in the media. And that fits their persona just fine.

They don’t get paid for scoring goals, but get paid for playing defense. Not very glamorous to most, but their value to the Capitals under the Peter Laviolette system has been immeasurable over the past two seasons.

The Capitals fourth line was a deciding factor in the last two games, and primarily responsible for the team taking home all four points. Last night their late-game heroics flipped a 3-2 deficit into a 5-3 victory for Washington.

It began with a patented fourth line surge and a Garnet Hathaway deflection to tie the game 3-3 late in the third period.

Laviolette had seen enough. He put the fourth line right back out on the ice. Most would think it would be the top line or the second line getting a bulk of the time on ice in the closing seconds of regulation. Not for Laviolette and the Capitals. The fourth line would subsequently give the Capitals the lead.

Tuesday night’s victory in Nashville can be credited to the entire team. However, the game and it’s outcome may very well have been decided in a single shift. A single shift by the Capitals’ fourth line.

The Predators had been knocking on the door the entire game. They struck iron on what seemed like a half-dozen shots or so, but couldn’t find paydirt. Then, early in the final period the inevitable occurred. Nashville tied the game 1-1. It felt like it was just a matter of time, as the switch in momentum seemed palatable.

Things could have gone off the rails at that point, like they had in many recent games for the Capitals. But this time it didn’t, thanks to the fourth line.

Less than a minute later, in their very next shift, the Hagelin-Dowd-Hathaway line, with help from the Capitals shutdown defenders of Nick Jensen and Dmitry Orlov, turned in this beautiful piece of poetry. It was as if they had said enough is enough.

There is no flashy nickname or cutesy antonym for their line, which seems about right when you consider their unflashy, workmanlike style of play. They are tasked night in and night out at stopping the opposing team’s superstars, and yet, somehow they not only find a way to defend against the superstars, but also find a way to score.

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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4 Responses to The People’s Line: Nic Dowd, Carl Hagelin And Garnet Hathaway Lead Capitals To Two Key Road Victories

  1. Anonymous says:

    Where would the Capitals be without the 4th line these last two seasons?

    • DC Scappeli says:

      Exactly….it’s funny to me that some fans get on Lavi and want him fired for playing the 4th line “too much”. It’s pretty apparent that Lavi knows more about hockey than the vast majority of us fans. So I’m guessing he sees something in the 4th line and what they can do that has him trusting those guys in the line match ups.

      And some fans bemoan the 4th line getting ice time over Connor Mac, but until Connor can prove his line needs to be out there, Lavi is going to go with experience and his vets. Connor’s time will come, he’s part of the future here, but he probably still needs some more developmental time versus just rushing him into everything all at once.

      I admit that I’ve been hard on Hags a lot (mainly because he can’t finish his breakaways) but that guy is a hard worker and probably does tons of small detail stuff that I don’t notice. Is he over paid? Probably. But Lavi and BMac see something of value in the guy and the his line mates.

      • Jon Sorensen says:

        It’s purely defense. Lavi is a defensive-minded coach, and said as much. If you can’t play defense you won’t play in the third period, it’s that simple.

        Fans want Hags to score goals and that’s simply not what he’s paid to do.

  2. Anonymous says:

    You’re not gonna find a better player that does what Hagelin does/is supposed to do. His PK and defense is second to none. I just wonder how long his AAV can be swallowed.

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