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But without Crosby and Malkin, they likely won’t contend with Philadelphia or Tampa Bay for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Nor will they be serious threats to win their second Stanley Cup in three seasons.

After all, Crosby, Malkin and Kunitz have combined for 65 goals. No Penguin in the lineup Tuesday night had more than 10. In fact, Crosby, Comrie, Malkin, Asham and Letestu had combined for 39 percent of Pittsburgh’s goals entering Tuesday.

The Penguins, with the deadline approaching, can look for center help via a trade, of course. The most marketable out there appears to be New Jersey’s Jason Arnott, who has 13 goals and 11 assists. But there figures to be quite a line for his services.

Bylsma, as usual, won’t use the injuries as an excuse as the Penguins search for answers.

“I’m pretty confident I’ve tried a couple of different line combinations,” he said. “We’ll continue to look for lines and people who are able and willing to get to the offensive zone and play there and get to the front of the net.”

It won’t be Malkin.

The 2009 NHL scoring champion and Conn Smythe Trophy winner as MVP of the playoffs will have surgery Thursday to repair a torn ACL and torn MCL in his right knee. He was injured in a 3-2 win over Buffalo on Friday. He finished with 15 goals and 37 points this season.

General manager Ray Shero said Malkin’s rehabilitation period will take six months, and he will be ready for the start of training camp in September.

Penguins defenseman Kris Letang, who played in the All-Star game last month in Raleigh, N.C., said the blueliners can pick up their production with the sharpshooters out.

“I think coming in every game we try to bring offense. We don’t just try to sit back and wait for a rush,” he said. “We try to bring offense, but sometimes it doesn’t come because we don’t have the puck.”

They probably will now.