TORONTO -- The NHL is investigating a scoreboard error that could have an "enormous impact" on playoff races in the Western Conference.
During Wednesday night's game at Staples Center in Los Angeles, the clock briefly stopped in the closing seconds -- giving Drew Doughty enough time to score the winning goal in the Kings' 3-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The puck officially crossed the line with less than a second to play in regulation. However, when the Blue Jackets looked at video after the game, they discovered the clock froze for roughly a second just before Doughty's goal -- meaning time should have expired.
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The NHL's video room looked at the play immediately after the goal was scored, but didn't notice that the scoreboard stopped while the Kings were buzzing around the net.
"We didn't even look to go back and say 'OK, did something happen [with the clock]?'" Colin Campbell, the NHL's senior executive vice president of hockey operations, said Thursday.
"When it crosses the line [and] you review it, you back the puck out and you see what the clock was. And the clock was 0.4 [seconds].
"And then after the game, minutes after the game, we see [it and say] 'Holy cow.'"
Campbell confirmed that the goal shouldn't have counted and said the league would conduct an investigation to determine what caused the error.
"You ask some tough questions," he said. "You've got to ask every question."
It's not clear if the result of the game will stand.
The Blue Jackets were upset by an incident that cost them at least one point in the standings.
Even though the team has the NHL's worst record, general manager Scott Howson wrote in a blog post that the unjust result "matters to our players, to our coaches, every person in our organization and our fans."
There's also the question of what it might mean for teams battling the Kings for a playoff position in the Western Conference.
Los Angeles is seventh in the conference -- five points ahead of eighth-place Minnesota and six points ahead of Dallas and Colorado.
"We will never know if the Kings would have got the extra point in overtime or shootout, but they may not have," Howson wrote. "This extra point in the standings could have an enormous impact both competitively and economically. What if the Kings make the playoffs by one point or gain home-ice advantage by one point?"
Campbell says he can't recall a similar situation during his 14 years with the NHL.