Northampton trailed throughout after a 12th minute interception try from Romain Martial at the Stade Pierre Antione but they fought back with a Dylan Hartley score after the interval and came close to crossing once more late on.
"It was always going to be a bit of a scrap out here - it's the way they play. They're a good side with a big chunky pack, bossed around well by Rory Kockott. That's what happened today," said Mallinder.
"We came with the intention to play some rugby, which backfired against us a little bit in the first few minutes with that interception try.
"We came back into the game and had our chances. If we had taken those we could be the ones smiling right now."
Mallinder admitted that a chance to take immediate control of a tough group had gone begging but he was quick to pick out the positives as the 2011 finalists prepare for next Sunday's home tie with the Ospreys at Franklin's Gardens.
"We've got to take the positives out of it: it would have been disappointing to get nothing and we've got that point," added Mallinder.
"We're frustrated that we couldn't get a win, but it is a point and there's six games to play in this competition. What you must do is win your home games, which makes next week's game against the Ospreys essential.
"We had a chance to sneak it but didn't get there. It just means that the pool is open and we'll look forward to next week.
"Our set piece was solid today, our scrum in particular did well against a massive pack, our defence is looking good, and generally our game is in good shape."