The Vancouver Canucks entered Friday night's game against the Capitals with the best record in the NHL. They left Verizon Center with their status intact. Second-period goals by defenseman Christian Erhoff and forward Daniel Sedin proved just enough as the Canucks held off a late Washington rally and added an empty-netter in the final minute of a 4-2 win.

The Caps (24-14-7, 55 points) have now lost three games in a row and are 1-2-2 in their last five. Vancouver (29-9-6, 64 points), meanwhile, didn't look like a team that had played just 24 hours earlier in New York. The Canucks fired 15 shots on goal in the first period alone and the one they actually scored on -- a shot from just inside the blueline by defenseman Alex Edler -- wasn't even close to the best scoring chance they generated. That goal tied the game at 1-1. Vancouver took control with those two goals in the second period and led Washington in shots at that point, 29-16. The Caps were the better team in the third period. Vancouver was down a man after defenseman Aaron Rome left with an MLC strain and Washington outshot it 11-6 as the back-to-back games. But by then it was too late.

"We put them on their heels in the third and put a lot of pucks on [Canucks goalie Roberto] Luongo - or at least a lot of attempts," said Caps forward Matt Hendricks. "And we were successful. But if we're not going to do it for 60 minutes we're going to keep finding the same result."

Hendricks started the scoring at 5 minutes, 50 seconds of the opening period - the first time the Caps have scored first or scored in the first period at all since a Dec. 28 win over Montreal. On the goal Hendricks took a nice feed from forward Boyd Gordon, broke in on Luongo (25 saves) and whipped a shot home for the 1-0 lead.

But early in the second period the Canucks took advantage of a roughing penalty on Washington forward Jason Chimera. It took just 44 seconds for Erhoff to blast a shot through the legs of goalie Semyon Varlamov (31 saves).

Vancouver expanded that lead late in the second period when Chimera was poke-checked by Jannik Hansen in the neutral zone. Unfortunately, defenseman Mike Green had already committed to a hit and the puck slid past him and right to Sedin, who was headed into the offensive zone with speed. He beat Varlamov to put his team up 3-1.

Marcus Johansson scored for Washington with 10:39 left in the third period to pull his team within a goal, but Sedin put the game away with his second of the game on an empty-net goal with 42 seconds left.

"Of course it gets frustrating when you don't score as soon as you want," said Caps center Nicklas Backstrom, whose team had another miserable night on the power play at 0-for-3. "But at the same time you can't just use magic and push a button. You have to work hard and then a chance is going to come to you. Maybe if we play a good game, 60 minutes, it will come. But right now we don't do that."