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(Sports Network) - The Philadelphia Flyers were expected by many to take some steps back this season. However, if things keep going the way they are it might be a step back right out of the postseason field.

The Flyers have lost five of their first six games, and things hit a low on Tuesday night in Buffalo as the club was trounced, 9-1, by the Sabres. Philadelphia allowed six goals in the second period alone en route to the embarrassment.

Goaltender Robert Esche, who made his second start of the season, allowed all nine goals on 37 shots. Jeff Carter scored the lone goal for the Flyers, who have lost three straight since their lone win of the season against the New York Rangers on October 10.

Esche, who had yielded to sophomore Antero Niittymaki in the previous four matches, has been touched for 13 goals on 58 shots. That computes to a .776 save percentage and 6.50 goals-against average over two outings.

The defensive effort hasn't been helped by the back injury that has kept veteran Mike Rathje out of the lineup in five straight games. Rathje could return to game ice later this week.

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