04/30/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Olympic Hockey: For Crosby and Canada, a Goal and a Gold

Neil Young's father, Scott Young, was a hockey writer who authored classic books like Scrubs on Skates.

So it seemed appropriate that his son, one of Canada's great musical artists, performed Sunday night for the closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. After all, one of Neil Young's great works was After the Gold Rush.

He sang ``Long May You Run'' as the full moon rose over North America like a celestial hockey puck ----- or a gold medal ------ after Canada won the hockey tournament by defeating the United States, 3-2, on a goal in sudden-death overtime by Sidney Crosby.

Sudden-death is the appropriate term for Crosby, a skilled opportunist who plays with a lethal instinct.

He materializes from the edge of action like a wraith in the mist. The best team barely won Sunday and Crosby was its best player.

His wrist shot between the pads of Ryan Miller ended a clean, hard match of exquisite ebb and flow that elevated the profile of the sport and enhanced its appeal.

Crosby showed tears and a big smile before getting his gold medal and skating with the Canadian flag. "Hockey's in really good shape,'' he told NBC.

It sure was on this day and in this tournament, the best feature of an entertaining Olympics, a natural team competition that felt legitimate compared to some of the newer stunt sports contrived to showcase acrobatic daredevils for American audiences.

In two weeks of competition, the silver-medal Americans were better than expected; the Russians were far worse. The Slovaks were impressive; the bronze-medal Finns were hard to figure.

And thanks to NBC for staying with the entire post-game scene Sunday and not breaking for any commercials.

For the most part, its telecasts this time around showed respect for the sport and a new awareness of which camera angles work well and which ones do not.

One quibble about Sunday's telecast was the intrusion of sounds from unseen replays that leaked onto the live audio several times.

You could hear them even over the non-stop chatter of Ed Olczyk, who knows a lot about hockey but rarely comes to the end of a sentence or a thought.

At one point, during the medal ceremonies, the play-by-play man, Mike Emrick, had to gently suggest that it would be good to listen to the public address announcer. Olczyk finally took the hint.

And then there were the flowers and the medals and the flag and the red Mounties and "O Canada!'' in a big arena singing scene that seemed sacramental, like a ritual in a cathedral.

It was quite the way to end a game, a tournament and an Olympics. No, the American hockey players did not quite win, despite a clutch comeback, but it is hard to call them losers.

Both teams merit praise. In the words of the Joni Mitchell song from the opening ceremonies, you could appreciate "both sides now'' and salute them for a terrific conclusion.