Jeremy Smith fought for seven years in the minor leagues for a chance to play in the National Hockey League. His first appearance in hockey’s top circuit turned out to be a battle as well, as the 27-year-old from Dearborn, Mich. faced 40 shots in a 3-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night.

Now playing with his fifth NHL organization, Smith finally earned his first call-up back in late December when Semyon Varlamov went down with a groin injury. Smith’s second call-up and first start came after Varlamov was shelved for the season. He got off to a rocky start in his first NHL start, allowing a goal just 2:04 into the game. Another two goals in the second were enough to give New Jersey to win, but Smith stopped all nine shots he faced in the third period.

Mark Barberio scored on the power play and Mikhail Grigorenko scored to bring Colorado within a goal, both tallies coming in the second period. The Avs put eight shots on Cory Schneider in the third period, but the Devils’ netminder matched Smith shot-for-shot to preserve the win.

Colorado continues its East Coast road trip on Thursday in Buffalo. The Avs are 0-3 through the first three games of the five-game trip.