The game was Calgary's first at home since floodwaters ravaged Southern Alberta in June and breached the doors of the Saddledome as part of one of the worst natural disasters in Canadian history. Everything at the event level was a loss as 30 million gallons of water rose to submerge everything under the first eight rows of the rink.
"As an organization, we feel sorry for the crowd because the crowd was just unbelievable and there's nothing more that I would like to see (than) my players and the crowd and the staff of this rink go back home with two points," Flames coach Bob Hartley said. "I felt that we had everything in the making for a great night. We'll just have to take a rain check."
After David Jones tied the game 4-4 with just 19 seconds remaining in regulation, Santorelli took a feed from Kevin Bieksa and beat Flames goalie Joey MacDonald at 3:27 of overtime to give Vancouver the win in goaltender Eddie Lack's NHL debut.
"It was an unbelievable feeling," Lack said. "A great job by Santorelli there."
"It was a little bit of a roller coaster, but I said to myself too that no matter what happened, I'm going to stick with it and work all 60 minutes and it kind of felt that's what I did, too."
The Canucks battled back, scoring three unanswered goals to take a third period lead before Jones forced overtime.
And after the Flames went up 3-1 early in the third, it didn't take long for Jannik Hansen to get Vancouver back within one. Daniel Sedin picked off a Curtis Glencross pass behind the Flames net and found Hansen in the slot, who one-timed the pass behind MacDonald at 5:01 to cut Calgary's lead to 3-2.
The Canucks drew even at 9:27 after capitalizing on another Flames turnover.
Brian McGrattan's clearing attempt at the Calgary blue line hit Chris Higgins and found the stick of Henrik Sedin. Sedin found Santorelli with some room and the latter beat MacDonald between the legs to tie the game 3-3.
"We didn't make good enough decisions I thought," Flames captain Mark Giordano said. "It cost us. We can't let teams grab the momentum like that, especially in our home rink. We're not happy that we gave them the points. We're happy that we had another solid effort. We should've won that game."
The goals came after rookie Sean Monahan put Calgary up 3-1 just 1:47 into the third.
Denied earlier in the game on a 2-on-1 with fellow first round pick Sven Baertschi, Monahan again elected to keep and fired a puck between the legs of Lack just 1:47 into the third.
"His offensive upside is there," Hartley said. "That's undeniable. What he offers and what he brings is pretty special for an 18-year-old kid."
MacDonald kept the Canucks at bay after they tied it up, robbing Higgins with a sprawling stick save with just over seven minutes remaining and Brad Richardson a minute later from the slot with an equally impressive glove save.
"That's my job," MacDonald said. "You've got to come up with timely saves like that. I think we kind of built on that. That would've made it 5-3. It's a learning experience right now for us. We've got a lot of young guys and we've just got to limit turnovers and we'll be fine."
Vancouver got another by MacDonald with just 3:54 remaining after Richardson's wraparound pass found Dale Weise parked at the side of the net. Weise made no mistake in hammering the puck in the net before MacDonald could get set, giving the Canucks a 4-3 lead before Jones' tying goal and Santorelli's eventual winner.
Though it was the Flames that came out charged in their home opener, it was the Canucks who found the back of the net first. David Booth redirected Jason Garrison's snap shot from the point behind MacDonald to put the Canucks up 1-0 at 4:47.
Jiri Hudler tried to erase the deficit on the next shift, firing a cross-crease pass to Mikael Backlund, but he was denied by Lack. Minutes later, Lack also turned aside both Monahan and Baertschi on the doorstep after Kris Russell's initial shot from the point was blocked.
Monahan had another opportunity on his next shift, electing to keep the puck on a 2-on-1 with Baertschi. The sixth pick at the 2013 NHL Draft fired from just inside the faceoff circle, but Lack fought off the puck with 6:27 remaining.
On Calgary's 13th shot of the period, Giordano broke through. Corralling the puck after a scrambled draw, Jones fed a pass to Giordano at the point. The Flames captain stepped in and fired a shot over Lack's glove at 14:32 to draw Calgary even at 1-1.
The Flames continued to build on their momentum in the second period and took the lead near the midway mark of the game.
Scrambling to clear the zone, Hudler upped the puck to TJ Galiardi, who in turn one-touched the puck to spring Backlund in alone on Lack. Backlund deked to the backhand and slid the puck by the Canucks goaltender to put Calgary up 2-1 at 11:26.
Calgary tried to extend that lead a minute later with Henrik Sedin in the penalty box for goaltender interference, but Lack held strong.
Lack stopped Lee Stempniak's shot from the slot the rebound off the stick of Dennis Wideman on the doorstep. To cap off the kill, he turned away Ben Street's deflection of a TJ Brodie point shot. The Flames continued to press with the penalty expired, firing two more pucks that Lack turned away before the next whistle.