The Washington Capitals are currently one of the hottest tickets in town. We have several of the best players in the world on our team, and are third overall in the League. I love hockey, so when a coworker sweetly offered me her pair of tickets while she was out of town for Thanksgiving, I jumped at the chance to catch a game live. My friend, Jen, was free to go with me, so we had a Dinner and Hockey Date on Thanksgiving Eve.
The Verizon Center (henceforth known as The Phone Booth) is located in the Chinatown neighborhood. This area is totally accesible by public transportation, as there is a stop for all Metro lines within three blocks of the arena, meaning you don’t have to drive into Downtown DC if you aren’t comfortable. There are tons of restaurants and bars in Chinatown, from fast food (Chopt, Wok and Roll) to sit down dining (Ping Pong Dim Sum, Clydes), so it’s easy to find something for everyone. I had to run home after work to let my puppy client out, so we opted for quick (but delicious) salads at Chopt. (Pro tip: Full Kee at 5th & H, NW is my favorite Chinese restaurant in the city and just a block away from the arena.)
Doors to the Phone Booth open an hour before puck drop. If you have kids, or want to fangirl the players, you can go down into the lower bowl, regardless of where your actual seats are, and watch the players warm up beginning 30 minutes prior to puck drop. I highly recommend going in as soon as doors open if you have small children, as the front row along the boards fills up super fast.
Warmup is a really cool (and “cheap”) way to see the players up close, and they often interact with the younger fans. They’ll slam themselves against the boards, toss pucks over the glass, and wave at the kids as they skate by. Having a fun sign increases your chances of getting a puck tossed your way.
After watching warmups for a bit, it’s time to head to our seats. We were sitting in the 400 level, so we had three levels to climb, and beers to grab before settling into our seats. (Pro tip: if you are going to get tickets on the end of the rink, go for sections 403-414, as this is the end where the Caps shoot twice.) I actually prefer sitting up higher for hockey games because you can see the puck at all times, whereas the 100 level has limited sightlines.
The game was an exciting one. The Caps scored first on a Justin Williams rebound just over a minute into the game, then went down 2-1 by the thirteenth minute of the first period. Alex Ovechkin scored on the power play to tie it up 2-2 to go into the first intermission. Intermission came at the perfect time, as Jen and I were in the mood for some dessert Chik Fil-A. The Caps took the lead again ten minutes into the second period on a Nicklas Backstrom (or Baekstrom, as I like to call him, cuz he’s my fave) back door chip. Three minutes later, adorable ex-Cap Matty P tied the game at 3-3 for the Jets, which was not so adorable. With three minutes remaining in the second period, Dmitry Orlov scored on a sniper shot, sending the Caps into the second intermission with a 4-3 lead. That would prove to be the game winner, with Evgeny Kuznetsov knotting an insurance goal with 6 minutes remaining in the game, for a 5-3 final score.
Caps games are always a good time, but even better when the night ends in victory. Aside from DC United matches, Capitals hockey is the most family-friendly sports event in town. The players interact with the kids, the intermission entertainment is kid-based, and there are tons of activities around the arena. Caps games are also great first dates and great to just go and chill with friends. Tickets can be expensive, so if grabbing them off Stubhub I recommend either going to a weeknight game, a game against a lower tier team, or an exhibition game (or some combination of the three). You can also purchase tickets off the Capitals Ticket Exchange, where season ticket holders sell their tickets for no more than face value. The experience is worth the price of admission, so get ready to have fun and Rock the Red!
Have you ever been to a hockey game?