Hockey, conventional wisdom holds, is a game of mistakes.

Makes perfect sense in a sport that is so fast, so physical.

But there were times in the Penguins' 6-5 shootout victory against Toronto Wednesday night at Consol Energy Center when they made it look as if it were a game of almost nothing but mistakes. The Penguins were guilty of glaring ones. Grievous ones. Even a few grotesque ones.

"[The first half of the game] was so bad," center Sidney Crosby said. "There's no real way to describe it."

Fact is, the Penguins strung together enough gaffes, giveaways, breakdowns and mental lapses over the first two periods that a loss seemed inevitable. Probably should have been, too. But it wasn't.

Not even when Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was yanked from the game early in the second period and replaced by rookie Jeff Zatkoff.

Not when Toronto built a 4-1 lead.

Not when the Maple Leafs got a goal with less than five seconds remaining in the second.

That's because, at least in part, Toronto failed to generate a shot in the third period or overtime.

"It's easier to play when you get a lot of shots, as long as they're not Grade A chances," Zatkoff said. "But I'll take that, for sure."

The Maple Leafs didn't fare any better in the shootout. Zatkoff denied Tyler Bozak and David Clarkson, while Crosby and Evgeni Malkin scored for the Penguins.

The victory ended the Penguins' 0-1-1 stumble and raised their record to 16-9-1. It wasn't easy, though, and no one would accuse the Penguins of making it look that way. A sampling of their blunders:

* With the score tied, 1-1, in the middle of the first, Toronto's Nazem Kadri beat Fleury from inside the right circle. The catch: Kadri's goal capped a three-on-one break and came when the Penguins -- who weren't supposed to be short-handed -- had only four skaters on the ice. The lone defenseman out there was Deryk Engelland, who was partnering with Olli Maatta.

* On the first shift of the second period, Fleury tried to give the puck to defenseman Kris Letang behind the Penguins goal line, only to have Maple Leafs winger James van Riemsdyk swat the puck away from Letang. It was headed toward the back boards until Fleury got a piece of it and kicked it back to van Riemsdyk, who deposited it in the net 13 seconds after intermission.

* Zatkoff had been in the game 29 seconds when Bozak bumped Letang off the puck in the Penguins' end and threw a pass to Phil Kessel, who buried a shot from the left hash.