VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Feb. 28 (UPI) -- The Winter Olympics ended Sunday with Canada completing the best gold medal performance ever produced by a home country -- or any country, for that matter.
The Canadians captured the gold medal that mattered most to a nation of hockey fanatics on the final day of the Vancouver Olympics, getting a goal from Sidney Crosby 7:40 into overtime to defeat the United States 3-2.
Prior to that, however, Canada had also won a gold in women's hockey, one in bobsled, one in curling, another in figure skating, one in skeleton and two each in freestyle skiing, short-track skating, snowboarding and speed skating.
It added up to 14 gold medals, the most ever won in a Winter Olympics. Germany was next best in the gold department with 10. The margin between first and second was the largest since 1976, when the Soviet Union won 13 golds and East Germany had seven.
The Canadian-American hockey game brought a fitting conclusion to the Games, providing tense drama from start to finish.
The United States came back from a two-goal deficit, getting the tying goal with just 25 seconds left in regulation when Joe Pavelski's shot bounced off the skate of teammate Jamie Langenbrunner and trickled onto the stick of Zach Parise.
Parise flipped the puck past goaltender Roberto Luongo, sending the game into sudden death overtime.
Crosby ended it by slipping a shot between the post and the pads of American goaltender Ryan Miller, who had blanked Canada for 59 minutes, 53 seconds after giving up two early goals.
It was Canada's second men's hockey triumph in three Olympics.
The only other competition Sunday came in the cross-country marathon, a 50-kilometer grind that saw five skiers finish within 1.6 seconds of each other. The winner was the best cross-country skier in the world, Norway's Petter Northug. It was his fourth medal of the Olympics, leaving him one behind the best female cross-country skier in the world -- Norway's Marit Bjoergen.
Although the United States had to settle for a silver in hockey, the Americans finished the Vancouver Olympics with the most overall medals ever won at a Winter Games. The 37 medals collected by the United States beat Germany's record of 36 set eight years ago in Salt Lake City.
Team USA won eight medals in alpine skiing, six in short-track skating, five in snowboarding, four each in freestyle skiing, speed skating and Nordic combined and two each in bobsled, figure skating and hockey.
The Americans failed to medal in biathlon, cross-country skiing, curling, luge, skeleton or ski jumping.
At the closing ceremonies, the call went out to the winter athletes of the world to gather again in four years time in Sochi, Russia. Those Olympics will begin in 1,439 days.