A penalty deep into injury-time from new Saints fly-half Shane Drahm secured the draw for the visitors after they had thrown away a handy 27-18 lead – before Sale began their spirited second-half fightback.
Northampton wing Jon Sleightholme scored the first try of the new season after just four minutes of play, which Drahm converted, Saints scoring another converted try just 10 minutes later through inside centre Mark Tucker.
At 14-3 down, the home side eventually opened their try-scoring tally through former England wing Steve Hanley, another coming from loosehead prop Andrew Sheridan, but it was Saints who held a 20-15 half-time lead.
That lead became 27-18 soon after the break before Sale scored 19 unanswered points between minutes 52 and 68 to rack up a useful 37-27 lead, but Northampton were not done yet as they launched a spirited comeback.
Former All Black and Chiefs wing Bruce Reihana scored a try in injury-time, which Drahm converted before adding the late penalty to tie the scores at 37-37, the teams sharing the spoils after both scoring at least four tries for the bonus point.
For Sale:Tries: Hanley 2, Sheridan, Cairns, TurnerCons: Baxendell 3Pens: Baxendell 1
For Northampton Saints:Tries: Sleightholme, Tucker, Drahm, ReihanaCons: Drahm 4Pens: Drahm 3