After missing the last two games as a healthy scratch, Mike Hoffman made a case for more playing time.
Hoffman made up for missing a penalty shot by scoring the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period to help the Ottawa Senators beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 on Saturday night.
"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," Hoffman said. "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 and Robin Lehner stopped 38 shots to help Ottawa get its fourth straight win after losing its opener.
Nick Foligno and David Savard scored for the Blue Jackets. 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 — who had been a healthy scratch the past two games — used his speed to get to the net and beat Bobrovsky on the backhand at 9:38 of the third.
"I think he showed great skill level with the puck," Senators coach Paul MacLean said. "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."
The Senators nearly let this one slip away as Columbus scored two goals 41 seconds apart in the second to tie score and quiet the crowd of 18,994 at Canadian Tire Centre.
Ottawa had made it 2-0 at the 7-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, who scored his first NHL goal on this night seven years ago, was credited with the first goal for Columbus, though 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 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," Foligno said. "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 and 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. He 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 he stopped Cam Atkinson.
Lehner is expected to share the workload this season with Craig Anderson and has been outstanding so far. 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."
Hoffman was awarded a penalty shot after being pulled down by James Wisniewski, but was unable to score as he lost the puck.
NOTES: The Senators are without D Marc Methot (back) indefinitely. D Jared Cowen, RW Erik Condra and LW Colin Greening were healthy scratches. ... 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 healthy scratches.