OTTAWA -- Craig Anderson made 37 saves, and the Ottawa Senators handed the New York Islanders their fifth straight loss with a 4-3 victory at Canadian Tire Centre on Thursday.
"After our last performance (7-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday), we wanted to come in here and make sure that we didn't lay an egg here on home ice," Anderson said. "Right from the get go, I thought we played hard, played together, played as a group and got rewarded for our play."
Mathew Barzal had a goal and two assists, and Semyon Varlamov made 25 saves for the Islanders (35-23-8), who are 0-3-2 in their past five games and 2-7-2 in their past 11.
"It's disappointing to lose this one," New York forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau said. "We need all the points right now, and we've got to find our game as fast as we can. I think we need more urgency in our game. So we're going to go back (to New York), refocus and get back at it. I mean, it's desperation time right now."
[WATCH: All Islanders vs. Senators highlights]
The Islanders lead the New York Rangers by two points for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.
"It's tough, but that's what good teams do, they find a way," New York defenseman Ryan Pulock said. "We need to just bear down. We've just got to get the thinking out of our heads and just go to work and just be simple and just have some fun playing the game and get our swagger back and get back to work."
Brady Tkachuk scored his 20th of the season for the Senators (24-32-12), who have won three of their past four games.
"It's fun to play against the playoff teams, the elite teams on our side of the League," Ottawa forward Mikkel Boedker said. "We came out and we played hard and I think it was a good win. [Anderson] played well, so that was good to see."
Video: NYI@OTT: Boedker elevates backhander for SHG
Anders Lee took a centering pass from Barzal from behind the net and scored with a one-timer on the power play to give New York a 1-0 lead at 3:58 of the first period.
Connor Brown tied it 1-1 at 13:57. Nikita Zaitsev took a shot from the right point that was stopped by the blocker of Varlamov, but the rebound hit Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield and landed in the crease, where Brown jammed it in at the left post.
Barzal scored with a wrist shot from the high slot to make it 2-1 at 4:18 of the second period.
"I thought Mathew was the best player on the ice today," Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. "He was dynamic, he was skating, he was on the right side of the puck, he was setting up people, he was dangerous all night. We need more from the other guys in our lineup. We've got some guys that are top guys for us that have to be a difference-maker for us right now because it's not coming very easy."
Following a turnover by Pulock in the Islanders zone, Boedker took a pass from Chris Tierney all alone in the low slot and scored a shorthanded goal with a backhand to tie it 2-2 at 10:00.
"That one, to me, was the one that put us back on our heels a little bit," Trotz said.
Anthony Duclair gave Ottawa a 3-2 lead at 14:26 when he beat Pageau wide and caught Varlamov moving to score short side top shelf from a sharp angle.
Tkachuk scored on a 2-on-1 to extend the lead to 4-2 at 16:55 of the third period.
"He's a kid that plays with his heart on his sleeve out there," Senators coach D.J. Smith said of Tkachuk. "He bangs bodies, he's reckless, and he makes it hard on the other team. Ultimately, it's great to see him get rewarded."
Pulock scored with a slap shot from the point to cut it to 4-3 with 2:00 remaining.
Pageau had three shots and was minus-1 in 18:43 of ice time in his return to Ottawa after being traded to New York on Feb. 24.
Video: NYI@OTT: Duclair roofs goal after speeding by Pageau
They said it
"It's a great mark of respect from my teammates. The appreciation from all the fans, my teammates and my ex-teammates was really touching. Just a lot going through my mind." -- Islanders forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau on his teammates encouraging him to take the ice and salute the crowd following a video tribute
Video: NYI@OTT: Ottawa gives Pageau warm welcome in return
"The guys certainly respect him. He was a great teammate here. He played hard, you can't take that away from him. He never cheated the game here. He gave the city of Ottawa and the Senators everything he had." -- Senators coach D.J. Smith on Pageau
Need to know
Islanders defenseman Noah Dobson was minus-1 in 14:20 of ice time playing in place of Johnny Boychuk, who didn't play after sustaining a cut to his eyelid against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday that required 90 stitches. … The Senators lead the NHL with 15 shorthanded goals.
Islanders: Host the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday (1 p.m. ET; ESPN+, MSG+, FS-CR, NHL.TV)
Senators: At the San Jose Sharks on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; SN1, CITY, NBCSCA, NHL.TV)
Video: Anderson, Senators hold off Islanders for 4-3 win