Montreal Canadiens coach Michel Therrien plays the 'Us Against The World' card

Montreal Canadiens coach Michel Therrien gets animated behind the bench. (BEN PELOSSE/QMI Agency)

Montreal Canadiens coach Michel Therrien gets animated behind the bench. (BEN PELOSSE/QMI Agency)

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:05 PM ET

MONTREAL - The sun did actually come up on a beautiful Montreal spring day on Tuesday — we wouldn’t lie to you about something like that — but that did little to alleviate this city’s collective mood of “The sky is falling.”

The doom-and-gloom sentiment in this hockey-crazed market is understandable. We get it.

There is no Carey Price.

There have been two consecutive losses on home ice at the Bell Centre, one of the most raucous buildings in the league.

In 120 minutes of Eastern Conference final hockey thus far, the Canadiens have held the lead for exactly 17 seconds.

They have scored just three times in two games on Rangers all-world goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who has turned aside 60 of 63 shots.

Need we go on?

At this rate, some naysayers probably figure the Habs should jump on their charter after practice on Wednesday and jet to Myrtle Beach to start their golf season, not to New York for Game 3 against the Rangers on Thursday.

Enter Canadiens coach Michel Therrien, who broke out the “Us Against The World” card on Tuesday, presumably to light a spark under his players.

Heading to the Big Apple without his starting goalie and a power-play goal in the series, Therrien was pleased with the pushback his team exhibited in Game 2 on Monday, a 3-1 Rangers win.

He had reason to feel that way, given the way his team dominated the opening and closing minutes of the contest.

Still, a loss is a loss, causing Therrien to imply that there is an exodus taking place from the Habs bandwagon. It’s a suggestion that fits nicely into the coach’s angle that his team is a decided underdog.

“When we started the season, there were a lot of people not even putting us in the playoffs. Or, if they wanted to be polite, they’d give us the eighth spot,” Therrien said.

“We caused a surprise to make the playoffs. We caused a surprise against the Tampa Bay Lightning to win in four, and we caused a bigger surprise to beat the Boston Bruins.”

Whether you are buying what Therrien is selling, we do know this: If the Habs somehow can win four of the next five games, which would be the requirement for Montreal to reach the final, that certainly would be the grandest “surprise” of all.

“There are not many people that believe in us, but that’s a group with a lot of character,” he said. “This is a group that believes in themselves, and we’re going to focus on one game and try to create a surprise for Thursday night again.”

To be fair, the Habs looked as if they were going to run the Rangers out of the building on Monday, building up a 1-0 lead and smothering the visitors. As Rangers forward Brad Richards noted on Tuesday, it was difficult for New York to offer counterpunches at that point “when you never have the puck.”

But just 17 ticks after Max Pacioretty opened up the scoring, a Ryan McDonagh shot deflected off Habs defenceman Josh Gorges and past rookie goalie Dustin Tokarski to tie the game.

The moment the puck crossed the goal line, you could pretty much feel the life being agonizingly sucked out of the normally rowdy building.

Fortune was not smiling on the Canadiens on that play.

And it was the same story when a tripping minor was slapped on young Alex Galchenyuk in the second period, an apparent phantom call that ended up costing the Habs when Martin St. Louis scored on the ensuing power play to put New York up 3-1.

“I like the way we played (Monday),” Therrien said. “We’ve got to focus and keep playing like this and breaks will change and luck will turn around. You need some luck at times to win hockey games. You need some calls to go your way to win hockey games.

“The Rangers, they got their break, and they capitalized on their break. But you know what? Momentum changes really quickly in the playoffs.”

All hope is not lost. In the history of the NHL, teams losing the first two games in a best-of-seven matchup have come back to win the series 19 times.

Of course, in order to do that, the Canadiens need more than moral victories — they need scoreboard victories.

mike.zeisberger@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/zeisberger


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