SAN JOSE -- Backup goaltender Keith Kinkaid bounced back from a nightmare game, and so did the New Jersey Devils.
Kinkaid made 30 saves for his second career shutout in a 3-0 victory against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center on Thursday.
Kinkaid started his second straight game in place of Cory Schneider, who is out with a sprained right knee. Kinkaid allowed six goals on 30 shots in a 6-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday at the Prudential Center.
After that loss, Schneider told Kinkaid to relax and just be himself on the ice.
"Definitely night and day," Kinkaid said of the two games. "Just from the start I felt a little better. I was tracking [the puck] better, better mentally prepared. I just stuck to my game and the guys did a great job blocking shots and not giving them much. I'd like to be that person every game."
Travis Zajac scored two third-period goals, including an empty-netter with 52.1 seconds left. Devante Smith-Pelly had a goal in the second period for the Devils (32-29-7), who had lost five of their previous six games.
Kinkaid's first career shutout came on Feb. 14, when he made 28 saves in a 1-0 victory against the Los Angeles Kings
Video: NJD@SJS: Smith-Pelly's perfect wrist shot
"You couldn't ask for a better game from him tonight," Zajac said of Kinkaid. "I thought he was determined. He was reading plays, he was reading the puck. He didn't give up a lot of rebounds or any second or third shots. I thought it was a great game for him."
Martin Jones made 12 saves for the Sharks (37-24-6), who remained four points behind the first-place Kings and three behind the Anaheim Ducks in the Pacific Division. They host the Washington Capitals on Saturday.
The Sharks were coming off back-to-back road victories and played for the fourth time in six nights.
"We didn't execute," Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. "We had chances to score tonight. It was little bit of a trap, four in six nights. But you have to give them credit. They are a hungry team, they were rested and they were sitting and waiting. They were desperate, they played a hard, heavy game. We needed a way to find one to get some momentum."
Video: NJD@SJS: Zajac's effort in front nets goal
The Devils are five points behind the Penguins for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. They play at Los Angeles on Saturday.
"You've seen when we play with structure and with details and play hard we're capable of winning games," Zajac said. "That has to be our mindset right now; keep pushing ourselves to try to improve. It's not easy to win in this League. You have to worry about your game and be prepared to be your best."
Smith-Pelly gave the Devils a 1-0 lead at 3:14 of the second period by scoring his ninth goal of the season and third in four games since coming to New Jersey from the Montreal Canadiens at the NHL Trade Deadline on Feb. 29. He took a pass from Stephen Gionta and fired a wrist shot from near the top of the left circle that went through traffic and caught the upper right corner.
The assists went to Gionta and Mike Sislo, who was called up Tuesday from Albany of the American Hockey League. It was his second career NHL point.
"It's always nice to put up numbers on the board," Smith-Pelly said. "I'm confident in what I can do. I'm getting a chance here, and so far so good. We still have to continue winning and I still have to continue putting my foot on the pedal."
Smith-Pelly's goal came on New Jersey's 10th shot of the game and third and final shot of the second period, when San Jose outshot the Devils 16-3. But the Sharks couldn't beat Kinkaid, who made a glove save on Patrick Marleau's wrist shot from close range on a 2-on-1 rush with eight minutes left in the period.
The Devils killed two penalties in the second period, the first one after Kinkaid shot the puck over the glass for a delay of game call. Sharks center Logan Couture had a shot from in front of the crease, but Kinkaid made the save.
The Sharks had five shots on their other power play. Their best scoring chance came on Joe Pavelski's shot from the slot, but Kinkaid made a glove save.
"We had a few good pushes, but we gave up too many chances and Jones made some great saves," Pavelski said. "We were looking for that one goal on a power play or 5-on-5 where it was going to crack their end.
"We could have had a little more jump and played a little bit harder. We had some looks and we had some chances. They are a tight team they don't give you a whole lot. It was like that when we played them in Jersey."
The Sharks defeated the Devils 2-1 in a shootout on Oct. 16 at Prudential Center.
Video: NJD@SJS: Zajac seals the win with the empty-net goal
Zajac made it 2-0 at 1:35 of the third period with his 11th goal of the season. After San Jose forward Dainius Zubrus and defenseman Paul Martin got tangled up behind the net and fell to the ice, Zajac got the puck left of the crease. He pounded a shot that Jones blocked but couldn't control. Defenseman Brent Burns tried to clear the puck out of the crease, but it bounced off the left post and spun over the goal line before Jones could cover it.
A video review determined that the puck completely crossed the goal line.
The Sharks nearly broke through with 15:25 left when Zubrus ripped a wrist shot from the slot, but the puck bounced hit Kinkaid's mask and deflected away from the net.
Burns missed an open net during a power play with 5:30 remaining.
"I just wanted to get back to the basics and just relax and be myself out there," Kinkaid said. "It was a great game by everyone."
Video: Devils shut out Sharks, 3-0