The Senegal international burst onto the scene at St James' Park with 13 goals in his first 12 appearances for the Magpies, but struggled for form at times earlier this season.
The 27-year-old seems to have rediscovered his touch in recent weeks, though, including Thursday's winner against Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala to secure Newcastle's place in the Europa League last eight.
And Pardew said: "Goals can definitely change a striker's mentality. His effort and work-rate have been first class all season.
"But when you get those special goals at those crucial times, it has to give you a lift. We're a different team now because we have a different player to (Demba) Ba in Moussa Sissoko.
"For me, this is a more modern team, a more intelligent team and hopefully we can take that forward. We had a fantastic run last season with Papiss and Demba - six wins in a row - it's just that it didn't work so well this season.
"But the team behind Papiss and Demba was weaker. We had no Yohan Cabaye for long spells, there was no Hatem Ben Arfa. We didn't have Sissoko or Mathieu Debuchy's delivery from right-back, so a lot of things were against us. I just think Papiss is in the zone.
"People get in the zone - you hear about this - and I think he's in a goal-scoring zone. You can take a look at Fernando Torres in certain games for Chelsea and he just doesn't look right.
"But I never really felt that with Papiss. He's a different type of player. He has strong confidence in his ability."