With Curtis Sanford hampered by a sore back and out of the lineup indefinitely, the Blue Jackets have turned to beleaguered goaltender Steve Mason as their starter.

No one will say it, but the implications are clear: this might be Mason's last, best chance to get his NHL career back on track and salvage his job in Columbus.

With more outings like last night in Xcel Energy Center, anything is possible.

Mason, decked out in new gear from toe to chest, had 34 saves and helped the Blue Jackets survive a hard-working, but messy affair with a 3-1 win before 18,958.

"It's just been a tough year on every single front," Mason said. "From not winning, not playing a lot, not playing up to my expectations. Obviously the team as a whole, we haven't played up to expectations.

"There were a lot of emotions going on out there. It just felt really, really good to go out there and have fun."

Mason earned his first win since Dec. 29 and his second road win (2-10-0) of the season.

Another player who has struggled this season, winger R.J. Umberger, led the Blue Jackets on the other end of the ice. Umberger had his first two-goal game of the season, and now has nine goals this season.

"My first one (late in the first period) squeaked through (Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom)," Umberger said. "That hasn't happened much for me this season, and it kind of got me going.

"It's been hard to get those bounces, but you have to create them. You have to keep working hard and believing that eventually they're going to go your way."

Umberger's second goal came with 19.4 seconds left in the second period to give the Blue Jackets a 2-1 lead.