Washington Capitals goaltender Olie Kolzig expects to start against the Sabres tonight at HSBC Arena in Buffalo, the veteran said yesterday.

Kolzig had missed the past three games because of a nagging leg muscle injury but showed no ill effects after a 11/2 -hour practice at Piney Orchard Ice Arena, his first workout at full speed in almost a week. Kolzig has been in net for six of the Capitals' seven victories.

"I felt pretty good, went pretty hard," Kolzig said. "I was a little tentative at the start of practice today, but as it went along, I started to forget about it and just focused on playing. I didn't have any problems."

Kolzig's prognosis was positive enough that the Capitals returned Frederic Cassivi to Hershey (Pa.) of the American Hockey League. Cassivi had been on loan to the Capitals.

Four other players, meantime, did not practice. Left wing Jeff Friesen and center Dainius Zubrus sat out (both are suffering from groin injuries) and are not expected to play on the upcoming trip to Buffalo and Montreal. Defensemen Brendan Witt (foot) and Jamie Heward (upper body injury) were given the day off. Witt and Heward will be in the lineup tonight.

-- Tarik El-Bashir