Brad Gushue's first Grand Slam of Curling title was there for the taking, but he let it slip away.
The St. John's skip missed on a potential championship-winning draw attempt with the last stone of the match, handing The National to Toronto's Wayne Middaugh on Sunday in Quebec City.
The steal of one gave Middaugh a 4-3 victory and his eighth Slam title, second only to Edmonton's Kevin Martin (13).
Middaugh dedicated the win to injured lead Scott Bailey, who hurt his neck during Saturday's semifinal win over Martin and was replaced by Maxime Elmaleh.
"The guys in front of me played great," Middaugh told CBC Sports. "Maxy, what an addition he was. He stayed cool under the gun the whole way through."
"We kind of won that one for Scotty laying in bed in the room."
Gushue, the 28-year-old reigning Olympic champion, looked to be headed for his first career Slam crown as he nursed a 3-1 lead through six ends. That's when things went south.
Gushue left Middaugh an open hit for three and the lead in the seventh, but Middaugh was off with his delivery and he managed only two and a tie.
That set the stage for the dramatic eighth and final end, where for a moment it looked like Middaugh had given away the match. The 1998 world champion tried to nestle his last stone between Gushue's shot rock at the back of the four-foot and his own stone higher up in the house. But the throw was a bit heavy, giving Gushue the chance for a game-winning draw.
However, Gushue's attempt started out wide right and stayed there, managing only to rub Middaugh's shot stone before sliding out of harm's way.
"On that type of shot you can't really use the backing," said Gushue, who fell to 0-2 in Grand Slam finals. "If you throw weight to get to the backing it's not going to curl which is what happened. I really just had to throw T-line weight and I threw back-four, back-eight weight and that's the reason we missed the shot."
With the win, Middaugh joined Glenn Howard of Coldwater, Ont., among this season's Grand Slam winners. Howard failed to advance past the round-robin stage.
Middaugh's rink earned $27,500 for the win, while Gushue received $10,000. Despite the defeat, Gushue maintained his lead in the Capital One Cup, a season-long competition for the top performer on the Grand Slam circuit.
The third leg of the Grand Slam, the Canadian Open, begins Jan. 21 in Winnipeg.
The National was also the site of the second regional playoff for the inaugural Capital One Million Dollar Button contest, which was held during the fourth-end break in the final.
Jean Poirier of Cap-Rouge, Que., beat out five other randomly selected contestants when his rock, without the benefit of sweepers, landed 114 inches from the button.
"I was a bit nervous beforehand," said Poirier, 52. "I tried to throw the right weight but it's difficult because the ice is so fast. I just tried to keep the rock sliding, make sure I had the right rotation and make the shot."
Poirier advances to the semifinals, where he'll compete against Masters of Curling regional winner Sheri Smeltzer of Fergus, Ont., and three other qualifiers for the chance to advance to the final on Jan. 25.
That's when one contestant will get an opportunity to try to cover the button for $1 million, live on CBC Television during the final of the Canadian Open.