Going to a live NHL game for the first time…questions about getting the best out of my experience?

So now that I’m lucky enough to live and go to college in two cities with NHL franchises, since I recently moved (Washington Capitals and Nashville Predators), I’ve decided that I want to attend at least one home game of each team in these coming weeks. Nashville’s next home game isn’t until Saturday, November 14 against the Montreal Canadiens. I plan on watching the Capitals play the Buffalo Sabres when I go home for Thanksgiving on Wednesday, November 25.

So first of all comes buying the tickets. I have little to spare so I’m looking mostly for affordability, though am willing to pay a little more if it significantly improves my experience. Where do you all buy your tickets? What source has affordable prices and a good selection? I’ve only looked at Ticketmaster (they charge a fee on everything) and Stubhub so far. For watching the Predators, finding tickets won’t be a problem, as I’ve found out that they have incredible promotions. I’ll be able to get guaranteed $ 10 tickets (they release 100 tickets at this price every gameday this season), although they are “upper level.” Should I settle for that? Is the view from way up there acceptable?

So now I’m just looking for Washington Capitals tickets for the game against the Sabres. I’m finding the lowest price to be about $ 25 now. Which side of the upper area of the rink makes for the best viewing? The ends (north-south)? Corners? Center (east-west, facing players’ benches)? And finally, do you have any specific tips once I’m there watching the game? What to wear, what to eat, etc, etc? Thanks a bunch. I’m hoping this turns out great, as I’ve been a hockey fan since 2001 (though not exactly loyal, after neglecting to pay attention a couple years after the lockout), but haven’t really had the opportunity to attend games until now.

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