The Germans repeated as champions of the women's team pursuit - first with a belly flop across the line, then by less than the length of a skate blade.
Hedrick had hoped to head into retirement with a gold, but the 32-year-old Texan was bothered by a sore right hip Saturday and trailed a pair of 19-year-old teammates, finishing 21-hundredths of a second behind the last of the Canadians to cross.
Still, Hedrick leaves behind quite a career: five medals in five different events, joining Eric Heiden as the only American men to win that many long-track medals.
Heiden, now a doctor for the U.S. team, led the cheers for Hedrick, Jonathan Kuck and Brian Hansen from behind the pads heading into the first turn as they saluted the crowd, holding up an American flag.
"This is my fifth medal, all at different distances, a major accomplishment for me," Hedrick said. "It's definitely been a great ride."
Canada's women captured four individual medals at the Richmond Olympic Oval, but the men were a disappointment until their final race. Maybe they just work better as a team.
Denny Morrison, Lucas Makowsky and Mathieu Giroux ensured that "O Canada" played at least once for the men during the 15-day competition, winning with a time of 3:41.37 seconds. The Americans finished the eight-lap race in 3:41.58.
So what will Hedrick do now? "I think I'll join the bowling tour," he said his young teammates. "Have y'all ever seen me bowl?"
No one cut it closer than the German women.
Matched against the Americans in the semifinals, they appeared to have lost when Anni Friesinger-Postma stumbled a couple of times on the final lap and fell coming down the last straightaway. Sliding along on her belly, she waved her arms furiously, like a swimmer, then stuck out her skate to trigger the timer.
She buried her head against the ice, believing she had cost her team a spot in the final, then reacted giddily when she realized the Germans had still won by 0.23.
Katrin Mattscherodt swapped out for Friesinger-Postma in the final against Japan, teaming with Stephanie Beckert and Daniela Anschutz Thoms to overcome a deficit of nearly two seconds midway through the race. The Germans won by two-hundredths of a second.
Poland claimed the bronze, overcoming the U.S. when Catherine Raney-Norman failed to keep pace with teammates Jennifer Rodriguez and Jilleanne Rookard. The first two crossed ahead of the Poles, but the time only counts when all three skaters finish.
Raney-Norman labored across 1.57 behind the bronze medalists. Rodriguez was denied a third career medal in what is expected to be her final Olympics.