(CNN) -- Canada reserved the best to last as its ice hockey heroes beat arch-rivals the United States 3-2 with an overtime goal from Sidney Crosby to claim the final gold of the Winter Olympics.
Crosby, Canada's star player, broke American hearts with his goal seven minutes and 40 seconds into added time to give the hosts its 14th gold of a triumphant Vancouver Games.
Canada looked headed for a comfortable victory as Jonathan Toews scored in the first period and teammate Corey Perry followed up to make it 2-0 early in the second.
But Ryan Kesler pulled one back later in the second period to set up a frantic finale.
Canada's much-vaunted Stanley Cup hero Crosby missed a breakaway chance to seal the gold for his side but with the clock counting down it seemed not to matter.
That was until the United States threw caution to the wind and Zach Parise forced overtime with just 25 seconds remaining, his fourth goal of the Games for the previously unbeaten in five U.S. squad.
The momentum now appeared to be with the United States, who had beaten Canada 5-3 in a preliminary round match.
But they reckoned without Crosby, who had not been a significant factor in the final until he came good as he received a pass from Jarome Iginla and slid his winning shot under U.S. goaltender Ryan Miller.
He was immediately mobbed by teammates who had finally lived up to the expectations of an ice hockey-mad nation.
"I just shot it," Crosby told gathered reporters."It doesn't even feel real. It feels like a dream."
It's the first victory for a host country in Olympic ice hockey since the famous United States triumph at Lake Placid in 1980.
But their 2010 counterparts were unable to match their golden feat and it clearly hurt.
"We only came here for one thing we wanted that gold medal, it's really a tough feeling right now. It stings you a lot, said Patrick Kane.
The other gold decided on the 17th and final day of action in Vancouver went to Norway's Petter Northug who won the men's 50km cross country title.
He beat Germany's Axel Teichmann in a two-up sprint with Johan Olsson of Sweden taking the bronze.