The Canes' Jussi Jokinen has a number in mind: 90.
As Jokinen sees it, the Canes need 90 points to reach the playoffs this season. With 11 games left, including tonight's matchup against the New York Islanders, the math is pretty simple. To reach 90 points, the Canes need 16.
"Obviously we've had some tough losses we would have liked to cut back on, but we have 11 games left and it's still up to us," Jokinen said after today's morning skate at the RBC Center. "We probably have to go something like 8-3, maybe more, maybe less, but I don't think we can think too far ahead.
"I think what we need is to hit one more gear and get into that playoff gear, with a little more desperation. Just somehow find those one or two extra goals per game and just find a way to get those two points."
The Canes often have gotten two points against the Islanders, going 15-3-3 in the last 21 games dating to January 2006. They have not lost in regulation to the Isles in 10 straight, going 8-0-2.
The Canes won the first two games with the Isles this season: 7-2 at the RBC Center on Nov. 18 and 4-2 at Nassau Coliseum on Jan. 26. But since that Jan. 26 loss, the Isles have hit a different gear, going 12-6-4. They're 4-1-2 in their last seven -- albeit with a 6-3 loss to the New York Rangers on Tuesday -- and scored 24 goals in those seven games.
Asked about the Canes' success against the Isles this season, Canes coach Paul Maurice said, "The time of the schedule more than anything else. We saw them injured early and they're a different looking team. Their confidence level is different now, so we will get all we can handle.
"They drafted high for an awfully long time and they have some highly skilled players. And you know they're not slowed down by the pressure of the situation they're in. They're making plays and good things are happening."
The Islanders have scored four or more goals in four the last seven games. They scored nine against the Pittsburgh Penguins Feb. 11 and then seven the next game in a 7-6 win at Buffalo against Ryan Miller and the Sabres.
The Isles (27-33-11) have lost five straight on the road and are 11-18-6 overall. But they did win four of five road games in a stretch last month.
Given the Canes recent scoring problems -- Carolina lost 3-1 Wednesday to Toronto despite 37 shots -- the Isles are a dangerous team to be facing at this point in the season.
"They've got lots of confidence, lots of speed, lots of hand skills," Maurice said. "When they get in the situation they're in, there's really no repercussions for certain things that happen on the ice, and that frees those skill guys up to do what they can do, and they certainly have some skill."
Matt Moulson leads the Isles with 30 goals. Michael Grabner has 28, John Tavares 26 and Blake Comeau 20. Grabner, claimed off waivers from the Florida Panthers on Oct. 5, had a hat trick in the big win in Buffalo and leads NHL rookies in goals.
Maurice said forward Troy Bodie would be a healthy scratch tonight -- that against a team that has shown some nastiness in games. Zenon Konopka has an NHL-high 243 penalty minutes and Matt Martin 113.
Scoring first could be big tonight, for both teams. The Isles are 19-4-5 when getting the first goal and 8-29-6 when falling behind. The Canes are 22-4-4 scoring first but lost 3-1 to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday after a first-period power-play goal gave them a 1-0 lead.
"We've got confidence in ourselves," Jokinen said. "We're getting the same offensive chances we were getting a few months ago but the puck is just not going in."