Hoffman, who had been a healthy scratch the past two games, made up for missing a penalty shot by scoring the game winner as the Ottawa Senators defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2.
"After sitting out the last two games I wanted to come in here and do everything I could to try and help this team win and help my linemates as well," said Hoffman. "For my confidence going forward it helps a lot to get the first one out of the way this year so I'm looking forward to the next game."
Hoffman, who has played 32 career games in the NHL, is hopeful this is the year he can make a good enough impression to play on a regular basis.
"For me now, I'm not thinking too much," said the 24-year-old. "I'm just going out there and reacting and playing my game and when I get opportunities to use my speed I'm going to try and take advantage of that."
David Legwand and Erik Karlsson also scored for Ottawa (4-1-0), which has now won four straight, as Robin Lehner faced 40 shots.
Nick Foligno and David Savard scored for the Blue Jackets (3-2-0).
Curtis McElhinney allowed two goals on 16 shots before being replaced by Sergei Bobrovsky, who gave up one goal on 18 shots.
With the score tied 2-2 Hoffman used his speed to get to the net and beat Bobrovsky on the backhand midway through the third.
"I think he showed great skill level with the puck (Saturday)," said Senators head coach Paul Maclean. "The goal he scored is a pretty good goal in any league. Hoff came in and he's been a patient guy and he's been working hard and had a good training camp and certainly gave himself a good account (Saturday)."
The Senators nearly let this one slip away as Columbus scored two goals 41 seconds apart in the second to tie the game 2-2, quieting the crowd of 18,994 at Canadian Tire Centre.
Unlike last season, however, the Senators are showing resiliency when they fall behind or get into trouble.
"For the most part we played good and then we had a minor meltdown in the second where they scored twice, but overall we held it together," said Karlsson. "Other than that I think we deserved this win. We played good, they played good as well and their goalies made some big saves for them, but we did what we could with what we had and we created our own scoring chances."
Ottawa had made it 2-0 at the seven-minute mark on Karlsson's goal that was reviewed after McElhinney was knocked over by Nick Foligno as he made the save and slid into the back of the net. The goal stood, but it was the end of the night for McElhinney, who was injured on the play.
Foligno hadn't had a chance to talk to McElhinney following the game, but said he felt terrible as he ran into him pretty hard and is hopeful he won't be sidelined for long.
Foligno, who scored his first NHL goal on this night seven years ago, was credited with the first goal for Columbus, but in reality it went in off Curtis Lazar's skate. Seconds later Savard tied the game with a shot from the point that got through traffic, prompting Senators coach Paul MacLean to call a timeout.
The Blue Jackets did their best to tie the game, but just couldn't get anything past Lehner.
"You've got to tip your hat to a hot goaltender," said Foligno. "We need to take out that we played a real solid game and battled back and never quit."
Both teams had a solid first period, but in the end the Senators led 1-0 on Legwand's goal as he beat McElhinney through the legs.
The Blue Jackets had two great chances, but were robbed by Lehner on both. Lehner managed to get his stick down on the goal line on what looked like a sure goal by Alexander Wennberg and later in the period Lehner stopped Cam Atkinson.
Lehner is expected to share the workload this season with Craig Anderson and so far he has been outstanding. This was his second 38-save performance of the season.
"He was an NHL goalie," said MacLean. "He made some real solid saves, he was composed in the net and I thought he gave our team a lot of confidence."
While they refused to use it as an excuse, the Blue Jackets had played the night before and admitted they might not have been at their best.
"We could have probably had a better start," said Foligno. "We were a little sloppy, but still did a lot of good things and played a pretty good road game. We maybe could have cleaned up our end a little bit better."
Hoffman was awarded a penalty shot after being pulled down by James Wisniewski, but was unable to score as he lost the puck.
This was the first of four road games for the Blue Jackets as they head west to continue in San Jose on Thursday.
Notes - The Senators will be without D Marc Methot (back, indefinite). D Jared Cowen, RW Erik Condra and LW Colin Greening were healthy scratches for Ottawa. Columbus was without C Marko Dano (undisclosed), C Brandon Dubinsky (Lower body), LW Sonny Milano (face), RW Nathan Horton (back), C Boone Jenner (hand) and D Ryan Murray (knee). D Cody Goloubef and RW Adam Cracknell were a healthy scratch.Suggest a correction