NEWARK, N.J. -- Goalie Keith Kinkaid admitted he was frustrated and disappointed after his last stint with the New Jersey Devils, one that yielded two relief appearances in seven games before he was sent back to Albany of the American Hockey League on Nov. 17.
Given the opportunity to show what he has Tuesday, Kinkaid gave coach Peter DeBoer and general manager Lou Lamoriello a reason to keep him around for another start or two, if not more.
Kinkaid made 37 saves in his first career NHL start hours after he was recalled from Albany. He didn't get a win; the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Devils 3-2 in a shootout. But he was hardly at fault for the loss.
"We know the goalie is not the problem," Devils right wing Jaromir Jagr said.
Kinkaid was nearly the difference in New Jersey beating the NHL's hottest team despite missing five key forwards in Mike Cammalleri (pulled posterior muscle), Patrik Elias (groin), Dainius Zubrus (leg laceration), Travis Zajac (lower body) and Ryane Clowe (head).
He made nine saves in the first period, 16 in the second, eight in the third, and five more in overtime, including two while the Devils were shorthanded. He made four saves to help the Devils kill a four-minute Chicago power play in the second period. He made a left pad save on Patrick Sharp's breakaway attempt 1:45 into the third period. Stephen Gionta scored the go-ahead goal 46 seconds later.
Duncan Keith scored the tying goal off a rebound with 3:13 remaining in regulation, and Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane scored on Kinkaid in the shootout.
"We put a few shots at him and if anything we built his confidence up a little bit throughout the game," Toews said. "He's obviously a good goaltender."
Kinkaid said it was hard for him to enjoy his night fully because the Devils didn't win, but he extrapolated the positives out of what might be his first of several starts this season.
"The wait was worth it," Kinkaid said. "Definitely a great feeling, excited feeling to have everybody in the building. Hey, you want to be one of the top goalies in the league, and obviously I'm still working to get here full time, so this was definitely a good showing."
One that should give way to another relatively soon. The Devils play eight games between Dec. 11-23, including a back-to-back set at home Dec. 19 and 20.
They clearly need another goalie to spell Cory Schneider, who leads the NHL with 27 starts. Kinkaid could be the answer. He at least earned a chance to show he can be.
"I thought he was great," DeBoer said.
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl