Ryan Crotty's late try locked the scores at 22-22 with the conversion to come and fly-half Cruden fluffed it the first attempt, only to be handed a reprieve. Referee Nigel Owens judged the Irish players had raced off their line before Cruden had started his run-up and ordered a retake: and the Kiwi playmaker delivered.
Earlier, Ireland blitzed a stunned New Zealand with three tries in 17 minutes; Conor Murray, Rory Best and Rob Kearney crossing in a superlative opening salvo.
But the world champions refused to buckle, wing Julian Savea and prop Ben Franks notching tries to turn the tide. Leading by just five points, Ireland attempted to play out the clock in the final minute, only to concede a cheap ruck penalty.
New Zealand launched a trademark quick-flash attack, and after fine work from Kieran Read, Ma'a Nonu and Cruden, Crotty went over in the left corner to shatter Irish dreams of a first victory over the All Blacks at the 28th attempt.
In 2001, Ireland had led the All Blacks 21-7 after 43 minutes in Dublin: New Zealand won 40-29. Agonisingly, that pattern was repeated.
The grit so lacking from Ireland in the 32-15 Australia defeat last week was immediately clear from the off. A stub-grubber from Brian O'Driscoll forced New Zealand into a knock-on in their own 22. Dave Kearney cut in off his wing, Cian Healy, Jamie Heaslip and Sean O'Brien punched tight-drive holes and half-back Murray pounced to open the scoring.
Healy then bust the line again, sending hooker Best through the gap. O'Brien followed suit to find Murray, and more quick ball allowed Best to dummy a pass and wriggle home for the home side's second try. Best was forced to trudge off with a shoulder injury with less than 15 minutes on the clock, Sean Cronin joining the fray in his stead.
Ireland sustained the pressure and when Israel Dagg failed to hold Cruden's pass, Kearney pounced. None of the New Zealand cover could catch the full-back, who raced clear to register his eighth international score.
Fly-half Aaron Cruden's clever cross-field chip set wing Savea free, and the arch finisher cut home for his third try in two weeks.
Undeterred, Ireland set camp in the All Blacks' 22. Sexton then slotted a penalty after New Zealand turned in at the scrum to extend the home lead to 22-7 at the break.
New Zealand built consistent pressure after half-time, taking a scrum from a kickable penalty, but Tommy Bowe intercepted Ma'a Nonu's pass to allow brief respite.
Cruden sent a second goal-worthy penalty to the corner for a line-out, only for Devin Toner to produce a first-class steal at the tail.
New Zealand came again from their five-metre scrum, Murray stripped Ben Smith to give Ireland the steal, only for Toner to be penalised for obstruction. Cruden slotted the goal to cut Ireland's lead to 12, before O'Driscoll was withdrawn through injury, replaced by Luke Fitzgerald.
Cruden failed with another penalty minutes later, then Read's mistimed tackle took Kearney out in mid-air, gifting Ireland a penalty and chance to clear from their own 22. But Sexton's weak clearance and Bowe's missed tackle on Savea handed the initiative back to New Zealand. Quick hands from Read, a half-break from Smith and New Zealand were within whitewash range again and a bloodied Ben Franks barrelled over for the All Blacks' second converted try.
Ireland launched another strong maul, forcing a penalty deep in the Kiwis' 22. But Sexton could not extend Ireland's lead to eight, striking wide of the right-hand post.
New Zealand launched one final attack, Read, Ben Smith and Nonu prevalent before Ryan Crotty nipped home in the left corner. Cruden failed with the conversion attempt, but Ireland raced off their line before the fly-half started his run-up.
Referee Owens gave the All Blacks stand-off another chance for the extra points. He made no mistake second time around, notching New Zealand's place in history, but breaking Irish hearts in the process.