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NHL explains controversial goal in Blue Jackets, Red Wings game

Cam Atkinson's third period goal was allowed because Detroit's Brendan Smith shoved him into the net, forcing it to become dislodged. It was a controversial ending to a huge game.

Kirk Irwin

The NHL's playoff races are heating up, and the Eastern Conference wild card race is currently a four-team pileup with Detroit, Columbus, Toronto and Washington all fighting for the two spots.

Detroit and Columbus were facing off on Tuesday and it had a bit of a controversial ending when Cam Atkinson scored what proved to be the game-winning goal seven minutes into the third period.

Here's a look at the play, which featured the net being dislodged just as the puck was crossing the line.

According to the NHL, the goal was allowed to stand because Smith pushed Atkinson into the net, forcing it to become dislodged.

The rule cited is rule 63.6, which states:

"In the event that the goal post is displaced, either deliberately or accidentally, prior to the puck crossing the normal positions of the goal posts, the referee may award a goal. In order to award a goal in this situation, the goal post must have been displaced by the actions of a defending player, the puck must have been shot (or the player must be in the act of shooting) at the goal prior to the goal post being displaced, and it must be determined that the puck would have entered the net between the normal position of the goal posts. The goal frame is considered to be displaced if either or both goal pegs are no longer in their respective holes in the ice, or the net has come completely off one or both pegs, prior to or as the puck enters the goal."

That goal broke a 2-2 tie in the third period while Columbus would go on to add an empty net goal to jump ahead of Detroit in the standings.

After all of the results on Tuesday, the Blue Jackets, Red Wings, Capitals and Maple Leafs all have 80 points in the standings. Columbus currently occupies the first wild card spot, while Detroit falls down to the second spot due to the regulation and overtime win tiebreaker.

Washington and Toronto are on the outside looking in.