Andy Potts,
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Sergei Mozyakin returned to action after missing 12 games through injury – and finished the day with mixed emotions. The forward scored his 300th KHL regular season goal at Vityaz, but ended up on the wrong end of a shoot-out verdict. Runaway leader SKA also lost in a shoot-out, despite Ilya Kovalchuk’s two goals against Dinamo Minsk. CSKA rested 10 regulars but overcame Traktor, while Loko’s early flurry was enough to stop Spartak.

Fast start sets Loko on track for victory

Lokomotiv Yaroslavl 2 Spartak Moscow 1 (2-0, 0-1, 0-0)

Loko got on top early in this game, but had to hold on for the win after scoring twice in the first 10 minutes.

The opener was credited to Yegor Fateyev after Maxim Afanasyev’s shot from the point took a deflection on its way past Nikita Bespalov. It was the first point for young D-man Afanasyev in only his fifth KHL appearance. Two minutes later, Alexander Yelesin fired one in from the blue line. Yelesin’s previous goal was a record breaker – he found the net just five seconds into Loko’s game at Salavat Yulaev – but this one proved to be a game-winner.

Spartak hit back in the second period, dominating much of the play and halving the deficit when Maxim Trunyov got a power play goal midway through the session. But the visitor was unable to salvage anything from the game, and the best chance of the third period fell to Loko when Yegor Korshkov saw his penalty shot saved by Bespalov’s pads.

Photo: 19.12.17. KHL Championship 2017/18. Lokomotiv (Yaroslavl) - Spartak (Moscow)

Mozyakin reaches new milestone, but Magnitka loses out

Vityaz Moscow Region 2 Metallurg Magnitogorsk 1 SO (0-0, 0-0, 1-1, 0-0, 1-0)

Sergei Mozyakin returned from injury – and immediately got back to what he does best. The record-breaking forward showed he’d lost none of his sharpness during a 12-game absence, scoring his 300th goal in KHL regular season play.

The big moment came on a power play early in the third period when Mozyakin rattled in a shot from the point. Home goalie Igor Saprykin saw the shot late, but may feel he’d like the moment back as he was beaten over the glove.

However, Mozyakin’s latest milestone was not the final word in this game. Vityaz tied it up with eight minutes to play when Borna Rendulic scored a power play goal of his own and the game went all the way to a shoot-out. And there, Vityaz claimed the win. Saprykin avenged himself on Mozyakin with a save, and Alexei Kopeikin produced the only successful attempt to give the home team the verdict.

CSKA shows its strength in depth

CSKA Moscow 3 Traktor Chelyabinsk 1 (1-0, 1-1, 1-0)

CSKA rested 10 Russian internationals for its first game after the Euro Hockey Tour, but still had enough in reserve to overcome Traktor.

Kirill Petrov made the difference. His shot, deflected home by Sergei Shumakov, snapped a 1-1 tie midway through the second period. Then he added the third goal early in the final stanza.

Earlier, Konstantin Okulov gave CSKA the lead after an error in the visiting defense. Alexei Kruchinin tied the scores in the middle frame six seconds after Roman Lyubimov was sent to the penalty box, but Traktor was unable to build on that. CSKA has now won 12 in a row, 11 of those in regulation.

Photo: 19.12.17. KHL Championship 2017/18. CSKA (Moscow) - Traktor (Chelyabinsk)

Skille gives Dinamo the edge

SKA St. Petersburg 2 Dinamo Minsk 3 SO (0-0, 1-1, 1-1, 0-0, 0-1)

Two goals from Ilya Kovalchuk were trumped by a goal and a shoot-out winner from Jack Skille as SKA suffered a rare setback.

The Russian international opened the scoring with a one-timer off David Rundblad’s pass early in the second period, but Dinamo hit back. Dmitry Korobov sent Skille on a rendezvous with Mikko Koskinen for the equalizer, then struck himself to give the Belarusians a 2-1 lead with 10 minutes to go.

Kovalchuk had the answer to that one, deflecting an Alexander Barabanov shot past Jhonas Enroth to tie things up in the 57th minute. But he lost out in the shoot-out, failing with his attempt as Skille claimed the winner for Dinamo.

Andy Potts,
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Related clubs

Vityaz (Moscow Region) Vityaz (Moscow Region)
Dinamo (Minsk) Dinamo (Minsk)
Lokomotiv (Yaroslavl) Lokomotiv (Yaroslavl)
Metallurg (Magnitogorsk) Metallurg (Magnitogorsk)
SKA (Saint Petersburg) SKA (Saint Petersburg)
Spartak (Moscow) Spartak (Moscow)
Traktor (Chelyabinsk) Traktor (Chelyabinsk)
CSKA (Moscow) CSKA (Moscow)
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