Sidney Crosby always has Chris Kunitz by his side. Evgeni Malkin, with the exception of the next four games, always has James Neal.

Brandon Sutter? He gets the whole team by his side, one game at a time.

The third-line's wingers have been a revolving door, but its center, after a slow start, appears to be hitting his stride.

Sutter's numbers aren't impressive, but his play has pleased coach Dan Bylsma.

“I think Brandon has played his best hockey in his last 15 games,” he said.

The Penguins especially are pleased with Sutter's defensive work. While he has scored only five goals in 32 games, Sutter isn't required to light up the scoreboard. Sutter was acquired largely because of his defensive work.

“He knows he has to be good defensively,” Crosby said. “And you can see how good he's been lately. He's playing really good hockey for us.”

Much like Sutter, the Penguins' penalty-killing unit started slowly.