The defender had gone the best part of three years without scoring in the Championship.
His 81st minute header at the bet365 Stadium ended that 1,045 day wait.
Hughes’ goal put North End 2-1 in front and they held on to that lead to make it back-to-back wins under Ryan Lowe.
His goal came on the day the Welshman made his 300th career appearance.
“It was a mad feeling to score, I’d almost forgotten what it was like,” said Hughes who on Wednesday signed a new two-year contract which runs until the summer of 2024.
“I ran off to celebrate making some stupid faces and when I saw the photos I looked a right clown!
“In the changing room I was talking to one of the lads about the goal, I said it was a good job the corner came over from the side it did because I tend to connect with the ball better from that side.
“I hadn’t realised it was my 300th career game, that just topped it off nicely.”
Hughes found the net in the Carabao Cup victory over Cheltenham in September.
In terms of the league, his last goal came at Millwall on February 23, 2109. When you think of all that has happened since then, it underlines the length of time.
Hughes said: “I probably should get my head on a few more crosses and corners.
“There have been a few times when I’ve got into some good positions in the box but the ball hasn’t come to me.
“I was pleased to get this one and the main thing was that we won the game.
“We had gone more than three weeks without playing which is a long gap. You can do all the training you want but it is not the same as playing.
“Against Stoke we could have been a lot better in the first half and went in at 0-0.
“Their goal speaks for itself, it was a wonder strike which we couldn’t do much about. From there, we dug in and got ourselves back into the game quite quickly.
“Brad Potts scored a superb goal to equalise and no one deserved that more than him.
“He’s a very good player and it was nice to see him score with such a good finish.
“What was fantastic was that the fans had a good day out and were able to celebrate three points on the way back.
“They’d seen the Boxing Day match postponed which was a big blow, so Stoke was the first chance they’d had for a while to watch a game of football."
Thanks for reading. If you value what we do and are able to support us, a digital subscription is just £1 month for the first two months. Try us today by clicking here