Promotion hopefuls Gateshead were denied all three points by Marc Bridge-Wilkinson's late equaliser in a closely-fought north-east derby.
Gateshead had gone ahead through Martin Brittain's finely-taken free-kick early in the second half.
That looked to be enough before Chris Carruthers was sent off for a foul on Bridge-Wilkinson inside the box.
The former Carlisle man stepped up to convert the resulting spot-kick and seal a share of the points.
VIEWS FROM THE DRESSING ROOM
Darlington caretaker boss Craig Liddle told BBC Tees:
"The performance for me speaks volumes for the guys in the dressing room.
"They're going through so much, they've had an unbelievable eight weeks, and to go out there on Boxing Day and put in that commitment, I can't speak highly enough of them.
"We lost Johnny [Sanchez-Munoz] who has gone back to Spain. I didn't know Liam Hatch would be fit, and he's put himself on the line. The credit goes to the lads."